AND PUBLISHED E IT D Y L U IQ G T H P K O W R E M A C BY STIEGLITZ NEW YORK
C A M E R A WORK:
A n illustrated quarterly magazine devoted to Photography and to the activities o f the Photo-Secession. Published and edited by A lfred Stieglitz. Associate E d ito rs: Joseph T . K eiley, Dallett Fuguet, Jo h n Francis Strauss, J . B . Kerfoot. Subscription price Six D ollars and F ifty Cents (this includes fee for registering and special packing) per y e a r; foreign postage, F ifty Cents extra. A ll subscriptions begin with current number. Back numbers sold only at single-copy price and upward. Price for single copy o f this number at present, F o u r Dollars. T h e right to increase the price o f subscription without notice is reserved. A ll copies are mailed at the risk o f the subscriber; positively no duplicates. T h e management binds itself to no stated size or fixed number o f illustrations, though subscribers may feel assured o f receiving the full equivalent o f their subscription. A d Â dress all communications and remittances to A lfred Stieglitz, 1 1 1 1 M adison A venue, N ew Y o rk , U . S. A . T h e photogravures in this number by F . Bruckm ann A . G ., M unich, Germany. Arranged and printed at the printinghouse o f R ogers & Com pany, N ew Y o rk . Entered as second-class matter December 2 3, 19 0 2 , at the post-office at N ew Y o rk , N . Y ., under the act o f Congress o f M arch 3 , 1879 . T h is issue, N o. 30, is dated A p ril, 1 9 1 0 .
PLATES FRA N K EUGENE I. II.
Adam and Eve. Princess Rupprecht and Her Children.
Master Frank Jefferson.
Sir Henry Irving. Mosaic.
SOME RE FLECTIO N S OF TH E FU N CTIO N S AN D L IM I TATIO N S OF A R T C R IT IC ISM — E SPE C IA L LY IN RE LAT IO N TO M O DERN A R T H E subject of A rt, we all feel, is one o f the most difficult to handle. In art, even more than in matters of religion or politics, tastes and opinions vary so insubstantially as to leave them forever apparently without prospect of settlement. T hat, indeed, may be o f the life-blood of its existence; but it also accounts perhaps for that curious first anomaly which we find in respect of the general attitude towards art, nam ely: o f a large department o f human interest and activity which, while it is one o f the least understood (and often one of the best abused), is nevertheless one o f the most generously tolerated. In art, we are told (and this is true of a great number of artists themselves) there can be no exegesis; we may like or dislike, praise or blame, but we cannot explain. And there the matter is supposed to end. T h at art, however, can have any really vital and direct application to the age in which we live is a notion which, naturally enough, rarely enters the popular mind at all, except it be in a popular sense. But can it be said that even our more trained and cultured critics are free from this blame ?— in whom, so often, the wiser they grow, the more Hamlet-like does their attitude towards art become; either in finding the present times most woefully out of joint, or else past times most dismally and tardily great. While the masses are confes sedly interested but ignorant, such men on the contrary are but too often un interested or simply biassed. It is as if the weight of their learning had tethered their judgment, and their much study had brought them, in place of joy, a weariness o f the flesh, whereby the unrest that is in their own souls is too often the prism through which they view the quaint and original productions o f those who are alive and working around them. O f this kind o f criticism there seems to be no end, and we may say o f it that it is to be found in the high, rather than in the proud places of the earth, and is the fruit of knowledge rather than o f understanding, of culture rather than of genuine sentiment, and belongs to the fashion rather than to the inalienable democracy o f true art. It will be only necessary to give one instance to understand the whole order to which this class o f misacceptation and misbelief belongs. One of the most authoritative critics in G reat Britain recently remarked that “ A rt in our time seems by contrast like an iridescent oil spread about on the muddy surface of our civilization; it and life don’t m ix.” T hat, then, is the whole viewpoint in a nutshell, and constitutes what I would name the second anomaly in re spect of the general attitude towards art, namely: that tolerance, even while it exists (and often even amounts to a kind of dull enthusiasm) is mainly extended to what is beautiful in ancient art, and seldom to what is beautiful or strange in contemporary art. A third and last anomaly is the almost universal habit of withholding from the artist (or indeed from the creator and innovator in almost any genre) the right to as nearly personal a point o f view in his work as his critics reserve for themselves in theirs. These three are the prime embarrass
ments which, if they could, would forever inhibit the living artist from accom plishing his own destiny or the progress and destiny of his art. For that art does carry forward the banner in a vital issue with the decaying or stagnating forces of its time must be reckoned as one of the only causes that could entitle it to our respect. In a book entitled “ What is A r t ? ” , Count Leo Tolstoi, among others, once entered the lists with a sweeping condemnation of almost all that had risen to a place o f first distinction in the ranks of literature, music, or painting since a certain period situated in the beginning of the last century. The criterion which Tolstoi sets up for adjudging works of art is that only that is good and worthy to be considered great in art which excites the interest and the approval of the masses; with which dictum in a broad and synthetic sense there can be no cause for complaint. But to proceed to argue from that, as he does, that the interest and approval of the masses should therefore be immediate and en masse is to pass from the language o f philosophy to that o f a kind of knight-errantry or Don Quixotism o f humanitarian belief and benevo lence. T h at in the main, however, his first premise m ay be true without his second can scarcely be questioned. I f a savage from some unsophisticated quarter of the globe were called upon to decide between the merits of various works o f art that were presented to his judgment, his selection, it seems fair to assume, together with his reasons for making it (if he could assign any) would differ materially from the ordinarily accepted ones. Or if some more or less uncultivated person from our own midst were asked to perform the same function with regard to the same objects, then we should already expect different results for reasons which we could already begin to anticipate or explain. So that, if by a repetition of this process we were to take the measure o f the opinion of different people through out every grade and type o f human society, we should probably arrive in the end at the most perfect heterogeneity o f choice; but with a far more simple and definite arrangement of ideas on the whole subject than any which a more complex definition of art than the one which Tolstoi has selected could offer. What we should find indeed would be the unimpeachableness o f his first pre mise, that only that was good or was considered good in art which each one liked; only a more profound w ay of saying, ‘ what everyone liked’ ; whilst to carry the inquiry a stage farther would be to render it absurd, if by a process of selection and analysis known only to ourselves we were to substitute, as he has done, any other dogma in the second order o f ideas which was already contradicted by the first. The flaw in the Tolstoian art-syllogism is o f the commonest and most misleading type. And leads us indirectly to the verifi cation o f the fundamental lie, lying at the basis o f almost all commonly accepted art criticism; namely, the inability to distinguish between the fact that while we are all o f us judges o f art, only a few of us can be or are artists. Or, in other words, that only art can explain art, as only diamond can cut diamond; and that art criticism to be effective, to be any other than a dull echo and feeble reiteration of that which we already know, or at the best can better study for ourselves and become acquainted with at first hand in the 18
works themselves o f great artists, must evolve a new art form, or symbol, for its expression. In short, when we come to think o f criticism as the paradigm and primum mobile o f all the arts we shall better understand why so many fail in that which it can only be given to the greatest artists o f all to practice and to understand. Thus far, however, the argument has confined itself to the consideration o f those fallacies which are commonly contained in the practice and conduct o f art criticism. A rationale o f the functions and limitations o f art criticism would have to take note also o f the functions and limitations o f art itself. A rt itself is o f the type o f an arch-paradox; it is always contradicting itself. It is the whole armory o f dogmatism and of persuasion and speaks, o f course, always in the language o f exaggeration. Its humility is no less astounding than its egoism; its breath and amplitude are no more significant than its sheer intensity. A recent biologist, one whose aim was to show that there was what he named “ a need or D rang for life ” in the universe; or in other words, that the desire for life was the end o f all things, happily stumbled on this noble induction: “ Life, not Beauty, is the m ark o f A rt; but beauty is the signal that the m ark has been hit. ” It seems doubtful if the meaning of that can ever be bettered. It is true in an analytical sense that a centre of gravity, or centripetal force, round which art forms are first produced and are then forever afterwards enjoyed or dishonored, is the innate feeling in every human individual (and perhaps in every atom o f organic, as well as o f inorganic life) for personal affinity; for attraction and repulsion, selection and rejection. Also we have seen that, short o f an ideal (and that is as it seems an impossible) republic of human opinion, a final standard o f art can never be set up. Y e t it is true that among the ancient Greeks such an ideal was aimed at, and it m ay even be true that among ourselves such a goal is tacitly agreed upon. What that is becomes the business o f esthetic criticism to discover. Paul Verlaine once fashioned what would seem to be a very com monplace remark when he said or wrote: “ L ’ art, mes amis, c’est d’ être absolument soi-même.” T he phrase has all the charm o f ambiguity and of explaining nothing— for what “ soi-même” is, what Paul Verlaine himself may be, is one thing to me, quite another to Tolstoi assuredly, and as many different things again no doubt as the different people who think about him or about themselves. But whether his definition be true or not may depend on the view which we take o f art and of the artist in relation to society. I f we think of society as o f an organization for “ the greatest good o f the greatest number, ” then the claims of the individual within that sphere assuredly cannot be considered as unlimited. Y e t the sphere o f art is, on the contrary, so unlimited as to embrace in one shape or another men of every creed, o f every quality, training, disposition and even race. The beginnings o f art, in deed, go deeper than, and perhaps alone constitute, the earliest records of human society. O f art in its inception and its growth we m ay say even more truly than the historian Freeman said o f the structure o f human society as a whole, that there is no part o f it, howsoever ancient, “ that was not 19
eloquent o f commonwealths in foreign lands then undiscovered.” The prin ciple which underlies art is the same today as it was yesterday, or as it will be forever. Its source is in a sense of individual eclecticism reaching out through the whole body of correlatedly human, or universal, desire. Assuredly, then, the artist in the highest and strictest sense o f the term can have no business, no immediate business at all events, with society, or with the offices and affairs of an organization supposedly intended for the great (or little) good o f a great or little number. The artist’s concern must be primarily with himself, not in the artifices of man, but innocency of Nature. In short, as Mathew Arnold said of the functions o f poetry in particular, so we m ay say of the artist in general that his business is “ the criticism o f life ,” and therein exactly lies the supreme differentiation between society and the artist, that whereas society is engaged in the interpretation of things in relationship to itself and that is in the relation of parts to a whole (or at the best a diverse, temporary and mock whole), the artist on the contrary is only concerned with their resolution in terms of himself, that is, in the relationship of their apparent identity or inter changeability. Now if we believe in the latter as the symbol o f a more en during type, then we may have to adopt as an imperative maxim, that the business of the artist and its value for us lies rather in its differentiation from, than in its conformity to, past or existing models or modes of society. And hence the application of the argument to the functions and limitations of art or of art criticism. I f art has a supremely vital, even though a com monly unrecognized, relation to the thought of the age in which it lives; we may have to add thereto, that its value as an interpretative gage lies rather in its differing from, than adherence to, past or existing modes of thought. For if the last were not true then it would be difficult to account for that gross stamp of originality and independence with which great men have always sealed their work, and the widening of our sympathies which has been its direct re sult; or if the first were not so, then the chronology of art, like the chronologic al facts of history itself, could have no meaning and no interest for us. Y et we know that that is not so either: that the monuments o f ancient Greece and Rome, or the wall-paintings o f old Assyria, or the churches and palaces of a later age with their interior decoration; all these and their like are as authentic documents in the survival of remembrance, as the testamen tary records themselves o f the peoples and races to which they belonged. And still it may very well be that what we have come to regard as common place, or at the best as merely decorative in the large procession of time, may have had an interest as intense and vital in the order and contingency of things to which they first belonged as events the most ephemeral or the most perdurable which attract our attention today or at any passing hour. And thus, if we are so minded, we at last probe into that profound relationship which exists between what has been named the Tim e-Spirit in art (or its work aday, stained and mutable costume) and its fast anchorage in the immixity and sempiternity o f things. The artist, then, in the high meaning and example o f the term, is no mere child loosed at large in a garden stocked with all playful colors, but rather 20
one whose hand has become dyed with the colors that his mind worked in. And it will be safe to assume that if his inspiration be not drawn from the common earth on which he lives and find not a logicality in the sun or in the stars that lend him their light, his work will be unearthly and so unreal, or unaspiring and so unideal. T h at we m ay not hope to find such qualities in all who call themselves artists is obvious; while it is at least equally obvious that not all who set themselves up to be the critics of art will be ready in those virtues which they are so fain to deny to others. W
a cC o ll.
T H E F IG H T FOR RECO GN ITIO N T was in the early sixties that Edouard M anet sent to the Paris Salon his famous “ Breakfast on the G ra ss,” painted before he was thirty, depicting nudes among clothed figures, a favorite theme with the Old Masters. It was rejected with a howl of moral derision. Several years before the ju ry had refused his “ F ife r” on the ground o f technical brutality. His paintings had the same effect on the critics as a red flag has on a bull. He was roared at as though he were a horned beast o f the Apocalypse. It had become fashionable to gibe and sneer at Manet. Everything was good for an attack on him, everything was a pretext. He shrugged his shoulders and tossed the gauntlet to his critics. He hurled immortal blasphemies at academic authority; and brandished his brush in the face o f official painters many of whom should have been pastry cooks and laundry men. He attacked everything that represented routine. He fought the petty and pallid taste in art, the artificial admiration o f the connoisseur. He knew he had something original to say and fought to say it. He felt himself as a reformer and was proud of his innovations. He talked himself hoarse in the evening among his friends in the obscure Cafe Berguois defending his theories. He told the same story to his intimate friends Whist ler, Legros and Fantin-Latour who came to see him at his studio in the rue Guyot. He devoted as much time to repudiate prejudice as to painting. Every incident he utilized to gather strength and power. His friends of the press, among them Baudelaire, Gautier, Zola and M allarmé, made the most of it. T hey dragged the impressionist canvases out of obscurity. The public laughed, and hailed these efforts with mockery and hisses. He was generous enough to take upon himself all the reproaches and bursts o f anger levelled not only against his work but theirs. For he fought alone. Monet, Renoir, Degas, Sisley, Pissaro, Jongkind, Besnard had no fighting blood in them. T hey were resigned to their unpopularity. T hey despised glory. Indifferent to the public, they went their colorful way. T h ey faced ignorance and hostility with serene impassibility, disdainfully wrapped their cloaks about them and returned to their easels and their dreams. Manet enjoyed rowing against the stream. He never tired o f assuming a fighting attitude. Like some hildago, he tried to sword-prick his opponents
out of his path. Insults served him as coronations. T o many he seemed monstrous and gross. He was in reality accomplished and audacious. He was o f a robust and lusty nature, astoundingly frank and sincere, and above all a natural man who could paint, paint better than Courbet, better than the majority of his contemporaries, with the exception of three or four who were perhaps his equal. Genius is generally aware of its strength. M anet at any rate was. I f he had remained silent he might have been forgotten; the success o f the whole school of impressionists would have been retarded for a score o f years; the mob would have swept over them, pushed them to the wall, and trampled them in the gravel. For years his life was a turmoil. One year they admitted his canvases under loud protests, another year they flatly refused them. T o throw stones at him was law among men o f wit who had no genius. T hey scorned and ridiculed his “ C hrist.” His “ O lym pia” never would have been bought except by subscription. His “ N a n a ” wTas rejected. T he exhibition o f his “ Execution of Emperor M axim ilian” was prohibited by the government. T he “ G arden ” and “ Bon B o ck ,” masterpieces that created a furore among painters, were disposed of as “ coarse im ages.” So 1875 was a repetition o f 1869. M anet did not mind opposition, he simply continued. He thirsted for the expression o f life and performed the hard labor of the grand and beautiful, eating his bread dry, smiling at want, rather than to make the slightest con cession to popularity. His ambition was to mature, to develop a style o f his own. He painted like an Old M aster when he was thirty. He rediscovered the magnificent technique, the direct virile paint o f G oya, Hals, Velasquez, in twenty years of incessant study and application, and the next thirteen years he struggled to gain absolute artistic independence, to become thoroughly modern in subject and treatment and to conquer light. Thirty-three years, to his very death in 1883, he strove for nothing but to perfect his mode of utter ance. There is something glorious and infinitly noble in fighting like that— to die, so to speak, in uniform, fully armed, on the battlefield. What a great flamboyant energy there was in this man! He was one of the “ hard riders of the winged steeds overleaping all boundaries, having their own go al;” one of the eternal fighting men who let their blood riot and their passions blaze unchecked, who keep up resistance, who never bow or cringe to any accepted authority, who at the age of fifty have the same spirit o f revolt, the same fire and enthusiasm as in their youthful dreams. And now, M anet is enthroned in classic glory. How absurd, and incon sistent! T he comedy played through the centuries, which has for its hero the man o f ideas, seems to repeat itself again and again. Tw ice or thrice in his career he received the praises o f his contemporaries, splendid public recog nitions; fame came only after death. It has ever been thus. T he men who slaughter other human beings, wholesale, in order to suppress another portion o f humanity, with a pretense o f liberating them from despotism, are honored with triumphal arches, dinners, parades and diamond badges— perhaps rightly, I surely have nothing against it, but why is a man who fights for an ideal of 22
humanity, no matter whether a poet, reformer, philosopher or artist, always hooted by the crowd, and pelted with mud, even by his friends! It can not be otherwise. What can we expect o f a public that admires Vibert and is ashamed o f hanging a nude. T he public has no time to reflect. It is only concerned with the effect. Its esthetic appreciation lives on memo ries or reminiscences. It admires only what it has seen before. It is always opposed to real originality. T he road o f novel ideas is too rough for them. T h ey prefer to leap through the paper loops of the modish art dealer and critic. Discrimination is not granted to the Philistines. Paint, like verse and music, is something which the technically ignorant can not understand. Technically they know art as little as the artists know stocks and wireless telegraphy. A t the best they want forgetfulness from the banality of life. Few dare to feel for themselves— all that the laymen require is their enjoyment o f art. T h ey do not dare to go into the large open places of life, shaken by the winds of space. T hey envy the artists because they possess powers and liberties that they do not possess. T hey will always filch the destiny and thoughts of great men. T h is may be perhaps the reason why so many men o f genius, at all times, were considered madmen by their contemporaries. T he true contemporaries o f such men are not those among whom they live, but the few elect of all ages. T h e world which they comprehend with their abnormal faculties is not the world in which they really live, theirs has entirely different proportions and limitations.
ON TH E PO SSIBILITY OF N E W L A W S OF COM POSITION H E wealth o f reproductive processes has enlarged our visual apprecia tion o f form and general aspect o f things to a marvelous degree. Photography, no doubt, has furnished the strongest impetus. It is the most rapid interpreter known to pictorial expression, and has given the person o f undeveloped mind, o f little skill and few ideas, an opportunity to become a picture maker. T he results o f photography permeate all intellec tual phases o f our life. Through the illustrations o f newspapers, books, maga zines, business circulars, advertisements, objects that previous to Daguerre’ s invention were not represented pictorially have become common property. Former ages offered no opportunities to the common people to acquire this facility o f discerning accurate representations o f life on a flat surface in black and white. T he draftsmen and stone cutters o f primitive times, realizing that their delineation was a simple form o f picture writing, had no thought of any more forceful delineation than that which sufficed people to clearly under stand the meaning o f figures and symbols. T h ey had no conception o f what modern artists call effect, the pictorial study o f appearances, which even the most ordinary newspaper illustration can claim. On one hand we see figures in pure accurate outlines, facts of easily legible form s; on the other hand
delineations in the round, with the application o f life and shade, perspective, environment, which demand a more delicate knowledge of appearances. Photographic illustration has become a new kind o f writing, and it would be strange if this evolution in our sight perception had not been accompanied by some changes in composition. Composition, tersely expressed, is the com plete unity of parts. I f we wish to emphasize any one part o f the representa tion it cannot be done without subordinating the other elements. Only in this way will we succeed in concentrating the attention upon the principal figure without any embarrassment to the rest. T he more pronounced our intention is, in conveying a certain idea, the more careful must we be in balancing the other parts. This general principle will be true for all time. T he symmetrical art of the Occident based on geometrical forms, and the unsymmetrical arrange ment o f Oriental art based on rhythm, are guided by the same idea. A new spirit of composition, however, may arise in periods of increased esthetic activity. T he relation between artists and the world at large is recip rocal. N ew laws cannot be elaborated by the mere will of a single individual. The composition o f the Old Masters, used for centuries, has passed through its first decadence and by constant application has degraded into convention alism. It grew more and more stereotyped, until Impressionist composition— which explores obscure corners o f modern life, which delights in strangeness o f observation and novel view points (strongly influenced by Japanese art and snapshot photography)— gave it a new stimulant. In photography, pictorial expression has become infinitely vast and varied, popular, vulgar, common and yet unforeseen, it is crowded with lawlessness, imperfection and failure, but at the same time offers a singular richness in startling individual observation and sentiments o f many kinds. In ordinary record-photography the difficulty o f summarizing expression confronts us. T he painter composes by an effort o f imagination. T he photographer interprets by spontaneity o f judgment. He practices composition by the eye. And this very lack o f facility o f changing and augmenting the original composition drives the photographer into experi ments. Referring to the average kind o f photographic delineation we perceive how composition may exist without certain elements which are usually asso ciated with it. A haphazard snapshot at a stretch o f woodland, without any attention to harmony, can only accidentally result in a good composition. T he main thoroughfare o f a large city at night, near the amusement center, with its bewildering illumination o f electrical signs, must produce something to which the accepted laws o f composition can be applied only with difficulty. Scenes o f traffic, or crowds in a street, in a public building, or on the seashore, dock and canal, bridge and tunnel, steam engine and trolley, will throw up new problems. A t present the amateur has reached merely the primitive stage. T he most ignorant person will attempt a view or a portrait group out-of-doors. Even children will strive for accidental results. T he amateur has not yet acquired calligraphic expression. Like the sign painter who takes care to see that his lettering is sufficiently plain to be understood at one glance, the amateur only cares to make statements o f fact. As we examine amateur photographs 24
as they are sent in to the editorial offices o f photographic magazines, we now and then will experience a novel impression. We do not remember o f ever having seen it done just that way, and yet the objects are well represented and the general effect is a pleasing one. I have seen trees taken in moonlight that were absolutely without composition and yet not entirely devoid o f some crude kind of pictorialism. It was produced by the light effect. Such a picture cannot be simply put aside by the remark that we hear so frequently “ T h at is a bad composition.” It may be poor art but it is physically interesting. Climatic and sociological conditions and the normal appreciation o f the appearances o f contemporary life, will lead the camera workers unconsciously to the most advantageous and characteristic way o f seeing things. T he innova tions which will become traditional will be transmitted again and again, until some pictorialist will become the means of imposing the authority o f the most practical manner upon his successors. In this w ay all night photographers, good or bad, will help to discover and invent a scheme or method that will be suitable for the subject and consequently become universally applicable. And so it will be with every branch o f pictorialism, may it be in the domain of fore ground study, o f moonlight photography, o f animal or flower delineation, o f protraiture, figure arrangement or the nude. T h e most important factors in these discoveries will be those qualities that are most characteristic o f photography as a medium o f expression. T he facility o f producing detail and the differentiation o f textures, the depth and solid appearance of dark planes, the ease with which forms can be lost in shadows, the production of lines solely by tonal gradations and the beautiful suggestion o f shimmering light, all these qualities must be accepted as the fundamental elements o f any new development. Photographic representation, no doubt, will become addicted more and more to space composition, to the balancing o f different tonal planes and the reciprocal relation o f spaces. T his may be an advantage from the point o f physical optics. Beauty is chiefly concerned with the muscular sweep o f the eye in cognizing adjacent points. It is generally conceded that the impression is more gratifying if these points are limited to a few. Every spot requires a readjustment o f the visual organs, as we can only observe a very small space at a time. T oo many spots, as may occur in modern compositions, no doubt will prove wearisome and fatiguing, but if the spotting is skillfully handled, it after all will represent the fundamental principle o f esthetic perception, and the sense of sight will adjust itself gradually to the necessity o f rapid changes. Also the relationship o f lines, so confused and intricate in scenes like a railroad station or a machine shop, factory, derrick or skeleton structure o f a building, will need special consideration. T he variety and the irregularity o f such lines, in which the straight and angular line will predominate, may be compared to the unresolved discords, unrelated harmonies, little wriggling runs and all the external characteristics o f the modern French composers. Debussy mastered these apparently incongruous elements sufficiently well to construct novel combinations o f sound that, after all, are pleasing to the ear. I f new laws are really to be discovered, an acquaintance with the various 25
styles is prejudicial rather than advantageous, since the necessary impartiality o f ideas is almost impossible, inasmuch as the influence o f study and the knowledge o f pre-existent methods must inevitably, although perhaps undesignedly, influence new creations and ideas. A ll natural objects have some sort o f purpose. And the photographer should strive primarily for the expres sion o f the purpose. Each object (like the free verse o f Whitman) should make its own composition. Its forms and structure, lines and planes should determine its position in the particular space alloted to the picture. More than ever must the artist be gifted with a happy appreciation o f beautiful propor tions, which often are sufficient to bestow a noble expression on a pictorial representation. Much will depend on the amateur who by sheer necessity will work uncon sciously in the right direction. His knowledge will increase and his ambitions soar higher. And as he grows in esthetic perception it will react upon the artist and urge him to attain a new and more varied, subtle and modern (though not necessarily more perfect) state o f development. S. H.
T H E A W A K E N IN G T he man held talk with death; with burning eyes He pierced the veil of life; then did he cry: “ Complacent rabble, now at last I know! Y e want no signs o f new-tide verities; But flatteries, for workers o f shallow thought; And for such facile doers of daily nothings, Again the furbishing of trite ideals! ” — Then they who stood around said, “ How he raves!” — And so he died. D
PLATES FR A N K EUGENE V II. V III.
Man In Arm or. Horse.
TH E A R T OF E D U A R D J . STEICHEN
C E R T A I N exclusiveness and a preference for work of particular choiceness have always characterised the exhibitions at the Montross Galleries. T o its list o f artists has recently been added Eduard Steichen, o f whose work an exhibition has just been held. It was the conclud ing feature o f the G allery’s existence at the old address and a prelude to the widened scope which its present larger galleries will involve. Steichen on this occasion was represented both by photographs and oilpaintings. T he simultaneous showing o f the two mediums, I understand, was at M r. Montross’s own request. It proves not only that gentleman’s discriminating taste for what is fine, but also the sureness of his perception in recognizing how completely the two mediums have been united in Steichen’s advance. Those o f us who can remember the first appearance o f his print, “ T he Pool,” made over twelve years ago, before he had come in contact with art and artists, know that it was a work of remarkable distinction and beauty, and can look back to it as the acorn out o f which all his subsequent growth has naturally proceeded. For it represented an original and very personal vision o f nature; at once large and embracing, yet very sensitive in its feeling both for the sentiment of the scene and for the method o f its expression. T he sense of tonality and appre ciation o f values would have been remarkable, had the print been the product o f a man who was in the w ay o f hearing these qualities discussed and of seeing them exemplified. But Steichen’s only mentor had been the reproductions and the text in C a m e r a N o t e s ; valuable as far as they went, yet limited in scope and suggestion. The sense, in fact, and the appreciation were innate in the young man himself. He was original from the start. Moreover in the character o f its expression that early print struck the key to which all Steichen’ s succeeding development has been tuned. It involved, as I have said, a personal vision and a feeling for ensemble and for effects of massing spontaneously arranged, but a feeling also for abstraction o f expres sion. It was the work of a man with whom ideas already counted; who dis covered in his subject an idea and strove for its expression; who looked into a fact for the soul of the fact, and, consciously or unconsciously, invested the perceptions o f the concrete with the conceptions o f the abstract. I am often twitted with dwelling upon the psychological side of an artist’s work to some neglect o f the technique of his painting. Possibly I do; because in the final analysis it is the quality of the artist’s mind and the bias of his purpose that not only inform and shape his technique but determine the value of its expression. Cleverness and skill are admirable. A bookkeeper may be a master in the manipulation o f figures, yet he misses the genius of a financier; and the adroit technician may be a good painter, yet from mental deficiency lack the higher quality of an artist. Y ou may fit a fountain with excellent plumbing, but its spray of water can only approximate to, never rise above, the height of its source. It is the same with a man, even if he be a painter. It is the quality of the inspiration and the volume of the momentum that count; and accordingly I am apt to dwell upon these requisites o f an artist’s equipment. 33
After Steichen had learned to mingle the study o f painting with the prac tice o f the camera, his most notable essays in the former medium were “ noc turnes.” It was in the sequence o f his development that they should be. In the first place, the tonality o f a nocturne is the nearest thing that painting presents to the tonality of a photograph, at least in technical principles. Then Whistler, whose influence few if any moderns have escaped— for I do not con sider your academic painter a modern— affected this young man profoundly. He found in the great artist not only technical example but a kinship o f spirit. Steichen himself is somewhat arrogantly intolerant of the commonplace; rap turously devout toward that which is choicely beautiful; but, first and fore most, he was keenly sensitive to the master’s abstraction of spirit, to his prefer ence for the expression of the idea. So Steichen sought it where for a while, in the seventies, Whistler sought it, and where we ordinary folk who are not painters seek for it, especially when we are young, namely, in the twilight and the night. It is in the penumbra, between the clear visibility of things and their total extinction in darkness, when the concreteness o f appearances becomes merged in half-realized, half-baffled vision, that spirit seems to disengage itself from matter and to envelope it with a mystery of soul-suggestion. Accordingly in the two exhibitions o f Steichen’s work, held at an interval o f two years in M r. Eugene Glaenzer’s Gallery, it was the nocturnes that attracted most interest. There were a few sunlit scenes, but they had neither been so fully comprehended nor so well rendered. Again, in the latest exhibi tion there were still some nocturnes, which were preferred by many people who have got the nocturnal habit and are disinclined to change. But the pictures in this genre were in the minority and did not represent the chief interest to those who are watching Steichen’s growth. Evidence o f the latter they found in his subjects of radiant or softened sunlight. These represented a distinct step in advance, because they showed the attack upon a problem at once more difficult and more vital. Psychologically speaking, it is to express the spirituality o f things plainly seen; to extract from the concrete appearances o f daylight their abstract expression. Technically, it is to escape from the arbitrary restrictions o f tonality and to harmonize the conflicts o f local color, seen in the glow o f natural light. These two elements o f the problem represent an advance beyond the noc turnes even o f Whistler and constitute The N ew Thought in painting. The difference may to some extent be illustrated by a comparison o f the soul-dramas o f Ibsen and Maeterlinck, respectively. T he latter in “ M onna V an n a” projects the conflict against the vague romance o f the past and, still more characteristically in “ Pelleas and M elisande” sets his men and women in a spiritual penumbra, wherein they move uncertainly as in a soul-picture. Ibsen, on the contrary, deals with everyday people o f his own time, viewed in the clear light o f daily experience. There is no evasion o f the concrete and material, no seeking refuge in the penumbra or explicit investing o f the facts with a spirit ual overlay. He does not project the soul-meaning o f his play on to the charac ters like a spot-light, but makes the characters irradiate from within themselves their own light o f spiritual suggestion. With him the abstract is implicit in 34
the concrete. This is the vastly bigger thing, this coming out into the daylight and discovering the spirit which hitherto had lurked only in the half lights and shadows o f the penumbra of the soul. And this is the problem, not yet solved, of The N ew Thought in painting. It is a further step in simplification both as to form and color; an effort, on the one hand, to depend less than ever upon representation o f form, and, on the other, to restore to pictorial art the purity of local colors. T he artist must use form; he needs it as the substructure o f his composition. But he would divest it, as far as possible, o f personal and local concrete significance and use it primarily as a support for the abstract expression which has become the chief motive o f his art. On the other hand, in his use o f color, he avoids the trans position of nature’s hues into an arbitrary scheme of tonality and readjusts his attitude toward light. He would no longer be a “ lum inist,” bent on trying to represent light and for that purpose decolorizing the local hues. It is the hues themselves that he prizes, and therefore he makes light no longer his motive but the means to an end. It is not light itself but color, receiving its full expression from the action o f light, that he would interpret. In this the modern artist is proving himself a follower o f Paul Cezanne. Steichen is, I believe, the first American painter who, comprehending the example of Cezanne, has been able to fit it to his own personality, in such a w ay that the latter has been not only preserved but strengthened. T he reason is that the example fits his own temperament and reached him when he was ripe for it and therefore could most profit by it. He has had nothing to unlearn. Moreover, his own instinct had been leading him forward in preparation for this later influence. T o quote only one instance, his gum-print o f Rodin beside the Victor Hugo and Le Penseur, made long before he had ever heard of Cezanne, is constructively Cézannesque, and within the limits o f black and white corresponds to the motive of Steichen’s later landscapes. T he only essential difference is in color. C ezanne’s example, fortified by his own experi ments with the Lumiere color-plates, has been like a sanction to Steichen that he would be justified in indulging his temperamental need o f color, the only medium for the full expression o f a nature so ardent as his. Already, therefore, in these later landscapes, the inspiration for which he has gathered in the hill-village of Voulangis, his summer home some twenty miles east o f Paris, he shows himself no less reverent toward beauty than in his nocturnes; no less impressed with the idea and eager to express it, reckon ing the concrete but as a symbol of expression. Meanwhile it is no longer in the glimmer of the penumbra only that he is searching for the spirit that informs nature. He stands no longer continually at the edge of the lake, peering across its dim water, up at the mountain that looms removed from human foot-steps in the solitude of the unknown. He has emerged into the daylight and takes his position upon a hill, looking down upon a valley close beneath and across at other hills that slope back in close companionship. The scene is familiar, a bit of the everyday life of a French hill-village. I m yself recognize it; can identify the road that I have traversed, the stream along which I have wandered, the woods, the village on the neighboring hill-top. It is all real enough to 35
establish without hesitation its concrete significance. Y et that is not the quality of which I am conscious. It is not the facts but the spirit of nature that I find interpreted in these landscapes. T h ey are heightened visions o f the scene; heightened first of all by elimination of the assertions o f fact, secondly by enforcing the assertion o f color. And everything is attuned to that higher conception of painting which will eventually leave to photography the recording of factual phenomena, and reserve for itself the most complete interpretation, in a word, the most abstract expression possible. Meanwhile, I do not say that every one of Steichen’s latest pictures achieves what he is trying for in all, or that in any he has reached the full expression of what he feels. So far, these daylight pictures do not attain to the quality of expression that is appreciable in his nocturnes. A few days ago a friend remarked to me that it is only in early morning pictures and nocturnes one should expect to find the spiritual suggestion of nature adequately realized. Such is the force of habit. For my own part I reject it. I am willing, how ever, to admit that hitherto painting has not succeeded in interpreting under the clear light o f day the same degree of spirituality which reveals itself in the penumbra. But, if the spirituality exists at all, and for our purpose it does exist if we will it shall, it must be present everywhere at all times. Therefore it is only a question of time, when the man who feels that it so exists will find the w ay to express it fully. I know no artist more likely to be the interpreter than Eduard J . Steichen. C h a r l e s H. C a f f i n . For the sake of record we reprint some o f the criticisms that appeared in the press on the Steichen exhibition: M r. M ather in the “ Evening Post” : “ About four years ago Eduard J . Steichen, who already enjoyed fame as a ‘secessionist’ photographer, surprised the town by a little show o f paintings. Th e ‘ Evening Post’ then had the pleasure o f pointing out the freshness o f this work, its confident mastery o f the pointilliste formu las, and its picturesqueness o f arrangement. Whoever goes to the Montross galleries expecting a repetition o f the old sensations will be disappointed. M r. Steichen has renounced broken color and impaste in favor o f smooth surfaces. T h e effects now depend upon the modulation of large masses o f local or decorative color and the general balance of such masses. Our artist is going over, for the moment, at least, to the side o f Whistler, Henri Riviere, or to eschew disadvantageous comparisons, the Dabo freres. “ Before interrogating too narrowly the art o f these pictures, certain obvious technical merits should be acknowledged. M r. Steichen knows how to make a sky sing by simple modulation of the tone, without having resource to snappy handling of the brush. T h e pellucid depth of the blue, the poise of hanging clouds— all these celestial features are caught directly without troubling the surfaces. T h is knack, rather common among the tempera painters of the early Renaissance, is rare enough to-day. Similarly, the broad necessary masses or green or russet that mean grass or Autumn oaks are spread frankly and give no sense either o f thinness or of garishness. Th e deco rative effect o f each o f these thirty-one canvases is deftly calculated. In fact, it is this air o f an old hand, in a painter still almost in his artistic nonage, that both piques one’s curiosity and arouses misgivings as to the future. Is it possible that experience can add anything to what already looks so complete ? “ In this art there is absolutely no fumbling and apparently no dealing with nature for her
own sake. The sane copyism o f the beginner is conspicuously absent. T h e decorative form and color have imposed themselves forthwith upon the thing seen. “ M ark these pale yellow poplars, in Autumnal harmony, which spring geyser-like from a shadow-shot greensward, before a band of russet oaks, while a deeply blue sky bends overhead. We are in the realm of pure fantasy. A Monticelli has been reincarnated somewhere near Giverney to refresh us. “ In general the scale o f these designs is very big— again an unusual quality. Whether it be the stems of poplars rising against the moonlight, the stretch of a pale green valley, a swelling cloud drifting down towards us over calm water— all these motives are rendered in a sense of size and importance. With color, M r. Steichen plays his own decorative game, but he is soberly true to the spaciousness of the scenery of French river valleys. It is perhaps a crabbed and injurious doubt that asks whether this precocious composure is good for M r. Steichen, when we unquestionably should be grateful for work so vivacious and accomplished. One awaits with mixed feelings the emergence of his third manner. He is the valedictory exhibitor in these galleries, where individual ism has ever been at home. After the 29th M r. Montross will move to No. 550 Fifth avenue, between Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth streets. “ In the room beside the paintings about thirty o f M r. Steichen’s photographs are shown. He has always preferred to take his two arts with equal seriousness, but the fact that most o f the photographic prints are familiar suggests that painting is winning him away. One could hardly regret such a defection. His photographs are most skilfully contrived, but they share the quality of the new camera work of looking better than they really are, with the defect of never again look ing quite as good as they did on first acquaintance.”
M r. Harrington in the “ N ew Y o rk H erald” : “ Nature, with the assistance of M r. Eduard J . Steichen, an American artist, makes a credit able showing in the Montross gallery. It is hard to tell where she begins and the imagination of M r. Steichen starts, yet the result is a series of interesting canvases in which what is true and what could not be are often strangely blended. “ Secession and convention go hand in hand in this exhibition. T h e influences o f M atisse and rebels of his clan who flourish about the environs of Paris and painter sense for the things that are combined in most o f the thirty-one canvases which M r. Steichen has brought from his studio in France. T h e show is for the delectation of those who are ultra aesthetic and those who would like to be and also for those who really like pictures. “ Th e group which is more or less of a transcript o f the scenery of the Valley o f the M orin, has a definite appeal to those who are frankly interested in beauty for its own sake. M r. Steichen has caught the sunlight and imprisoned it in pigment in ‘The Summer M orning,’ and again where he depicts the same vale under the glow o f Autumn. Here he has been carried away with the poetry of what is really before him. His nocturne of the city of Paris is mystic and unreal, the ex pression o f inner emotion rather than that which appeals to the outer senses. Y e t it will impress any one who looks at it long enough to feel its spell. “ ‘Across the G reat Divide,’ which is a memory of the Rockies, is overpowering in its depth of color and in the grandeur of the great masses o f blue reared as a challenge to all the ages. “ It contrasts strangely with the ‘ Spring Sunlight,’ where a child is wandering beneath the sunflecked branches of a grove in the late afternoon. One must see such pictures as those which M r. Steichen presents with the painter’s own eyes, and therefore it is entirely within the bounds o f verity to believe that on the day he saw ‘Apple Bloom’ M r. Steichen not only beheld the twigs blossoming so cheerfully, but also saw that the trunk o f the honest tree itself was of exactly the same shade of pink as the blooming branches. “ Photographs o f the variety Photo-Secession may also be seen here, including some fine like nesses of the President, o f M r. Theodore Roosevelt, M r. J . Pierpont M organ and M r. George Bernard Shaw. M r. Steichen took them. Nature helped.”
Arthur Hoeber in the “ G lobe” : “ Eduard J . Steichen offers the results of the last three years’ painting in France, where he has made a serious study of new movements in art, and where he has limned faithfully the world
out-of-doors, although he has taken good care to avoid the usual, the commonplace and the obvious. It is a nature he has caught in curious moods under strange combinations o f color or form, mainly under evening effects of rare subtlety and poetry, and, it must be confessed, the note is new, harmo nious for the most part and genuinely artistic. One was sure at the beginning, however, that M r. Steichen would not be content to follow along familiar lines, since from the first he has been inter estingly original, novel— we might say poetically— socialistic! Obviously he has caught some o f the spirit o f the secessionistic group o f Europeans, snatching now a bit o f atmospheric treatment, here annexing the secret of brilliant light, and so flooding his themes, and generally he has been wise enough to accept the virtues and reject the faults of the daring experimenters who have been the downfall o f so many o f their followers. M r. Steichen has preserved his balance through it all and has come out of some rather questionable society— artistically speaking, o f course— unscathed. “ It is where he has tagged on in a mild way this new influence to his old manner that he is most successful, as for example, in his ‘Nocturne at Chateau du D oux,’ an exquisite rendering o f delicate birches coming up vague against a late afternoon moonlit sky. There is a stream and back is blue distance, all charmingly indicated, in the suggestion rather than in the concrete, with a happy result. And there are some five or six glimpses of the valley of the M orin under differing effects of the night and the morning, with skies o f tender cloud forms and delicate color, genuinely poetic renderings o f beautiful phases o f the time o f the day. A large canvas at one end of the room, ‘Across the G reat Divide,’ is a dramatic composition full o f intensity, o f a large feeling o f space and distance, as well as o f the conformation o f the country, and it is very fine in its color arrange ment, yet without perhaps the vibratory qualities the later work possesses. It has interested this artist to find in large stretches o f French landscape, with many fields squared off with mathe matical precision, with trees and streams, themes for compositions, seeing them all under enter taining effects of light and shade, enveloped in the strong golden light o f the late afternoon, again under the dramatic contrasts o f approaching storm, but always holding the interest o f the spectator. “ Attention is particularly called to an unusual achievement o f M r. Steichen in his study o f ‘ Red Poppies,' for a more brilliant result with pigment on canvas we have yet to see. It fairly ra diates light and glows in its luminosity. In another room are some photographs. It will be recalled that M r. Steichen occupies a unique place as an amateur photographer, a curious term, by the w ay, for the class o f ‘ amateurs’ to which M r. Steichen belongs really means the highest grade of photographic professional. Here, then, are some wonderful portraits of the painters, Watts and Lenbach; the sculptor, Rodin; the writers, George Bernard Shaw and Anatole France; the mu sician, Richard Strauss; President T a ft and his predecessor, M r. Roosevelt; J . Pierpont M organ; the painter himself with his w ife; and Eleanore Duse, not to mention several views o f Rodin’s famous statue o f Balzac. In this direction M r. Steichen has said the last word, and there remains only to chronicle the fact that the prints fortunately are here. It is, in short, one o f the distinctly artistic displays o f the season, and on no account should it be missed.”
J . Edgar Chamberlain in the “ Evening M a il” : “ Eduard J . Steichen is another artist who is an impressionist in the broad, original sense o f the word, and not a mere follower o f a school of art which paints in a certain way and is named ‘impressionist’ for want of a better word. Th e exhibition o f M r. Steichen’ s paintings and photo graphs at Montross’s gallery this week and next brings together the work o f a man whose methods are greatly interesting the artistic world. “ M r. Steichen is a colorist with an extremely subtle sense o f harmonies and o f the intenser and more mystical aspects o f nature. He paints strange nocturnal combinations o f clouds, moon and sky, with terrestrial objects seeming to mount into the heavens by vague juxtaposition. He does not emphasize or depend upon line for his effects; in fact, he rather ignores line, and expresses himself in masses and rich color suffusions. His sense o f color is certainly most keen, and he pro duces delightful effects. “ Th e large picture o f the Rocky mountains in Colorado, called ‘Across the Crest of the G reat D ivide,’ might be called, with entire propriety, ‘G od’s R est.’ It suggests to the mind the creative intelligence brooding over the mountains after it had finished them. Deep and mysterious blues, illimitable distances, far dim clouds on the horizon, dark clouds above, billowing successions of ranges— all these and other elements make the picture one of great nobility and beauty.
“ M r. Steichen likes to paint the phenomenon which the Indians call the ‘walking rain’— mov ing clouds dropping showers. ‘Th e Curtain o f R ain ’ is such a phenomenon, in a shadowy, mysteri ous landscape. In ‘Th e Rising Moon— Valley o f the M orin,5 he gives us the most subtle inter pretation o f the evening sky seen through a row o f ghostly trees. Every one o f his pictures is sus ceptible o f exhaustive description, but after all the best part o f them is that which cannot be de scribed— the tender and delightful color. “ In another room is a collection of M r. Steichen’s remarkable photographs, which include three of the studies of the Rodin Balzac. His portrait studies are probably unapproachable; those o f J . Pierpont M organ, ex-President Roosevelt and Bernard Shaw are particularly successful.”
Royal Cortissoz in the “ N ew Y o rk T ribu n e” : “ Another painter to whom similar counsel might be offered is M r. Eduard J . Steichen, who has an exhibition o f his paintings and photographs at the Montross G allery. T h e note struck here is again altogether esoteric, and, by the same token, disappointing. It has been said o f those mod ern manipulators o f the camera who reverently approach photography as ‘an art’ that they do with the camera what the painter does with the brush. With all respect for the sincerity of M r. Steichen’s purpose in the handling o f color we are, nevertheless, constrained to remark that he does with the brush precisely what he does with the camera— save that he does not do it quite so well. G rant ing the hypothesis on which he builds his photographs, the latter are undeniably effective. Witness the three plates he has made o f Rodin’s ‘ Balzac,’ reproducing the famous statue in the open air, under melodramatic conditions of light. T h e fantasticality o f the piece is superbly emphasized. It m ay be noted in passing that these photographs expose with innocent malice the very quality which led to the rejection of the statue by the men of letters who sought a monument for the great writer. Balzac had his histrionic side, but thus portrayed he would never have recognized himself. But the key to his genius was none o f M r. Steichen’s affair. All he had to do was to raise Rodin’ s amazing figure to the nth power, and this he has unmistakably done. In the circumstances he deserves only praise. T o paint pictures from the same point o f view, however, is another thing. M r. Steichen arranges his landscapes with something of the deft artfulness that he shows in his photographs. T h e composition in a picture like his ‘Nocturne at Chateau du Doux’ suggests a clever stage setting, and in this the work mentioned is typical. Everywhere the painter wakes the same theatrical memories. Some o f his carefully balanced harmonies raise a surmise that he has sat at the feet o f Whistler, and occasionally he gives us a hint of the decorative ingenuity o f Japan . N ot once does he give us the savor o f the soil, the sense o f wood and field interpreted with loving simplicity. His work, like M r. Needham’ s, though immensely clever, seems done wholly from the outside.”
Jam es Huneker in the “ N ew Y o rk Sun” : “ Eduard J . Steichen, better known as photographer than as painter, thanks to his admirable manipulation o f the camera, is showing thirty paintings at the Montross Galleries, 372 Fifth avenue. There are also some o f his celebrated photographs, the J . Pierpont M organ, Bernard Shaw, Eleo nora Duse, Richard Strauss and Rodin’s ‘ Balzac,’ which may be called without fear of contradic tion ‘interpretations/ T h e Strauss simulacrum suggests the uncanny feeling that lurks at the bot tom o f his poison green music. It must have been modelled after Franz Stuck’s ‘ Luzifer’ ; the eyes have the same malignant glare. But these heads are not new and the oils are. M r. Steichen has been much of late in France. Poetic o f temperament, a man who senses the mystery o f twilight and the possessor o f a tender, subtle brush, his pictures are at their best transcripts o f moods, moods o f mystic rapture in the presence of a moonlit garden or aroused by the sweep o f the Garden o f the Gods. His former spotty ‘ dotty’ mannerisms have vanished; he paints in thin, clear strokes, and with dexterity. T h e view in Rodin’s garden is for any one who has visited Meudon an enchant ing evocation. We once crossed the garden in the dusk and battled with our fears because o f the stone creatures that through some spell seemingly came to life after the sun had sunk. T h e various colored reports which M r. Steichen presents of his sojourn in the valley o f the Morin indicate his advance in his art since his last exhibition here a year ago. T oo ethereal, too impalpable as are most of these imaginings in paint— there is not much range in the choice o f theme and treatment— you feel, nevertheless, that there are potentialities as yet only hinted at in the art of Steichen. He
always sees an arabesque in nature. His vision is eminently decorative. He has gone to the Japanese for his motives, though we recall that Jonas Lie showed us the value of sprays and leaves in space not so long ago. T his exhibition is the last to be held in the old Montross Galleries, a place where history has been made in American art. T h e curtain will rise on the new Montross pictorial theatre early in February at 550 Fifth avenue, between Forty-fifth and Forty-sixth streets. Th e initial performance will be, need we add, of rare artistic interest.”
Elizabeth Luther Cary in the “ N ew Y o rk T im es” : “ T h e Montross Galleries are this week filled with pictures painted by Eduard J . Steichen, whose work is better known in Paris than here, and who is there recognized as a disciple o f M atisse, although he does not himself admit his discipleship to M atisse or any one else. “ His work is highly individual and he indulges freely in color o f a sumptuous and barbaric quality, the kind that one gets at its best in stained glass with the color pouring through it rather than on it. “ Several of his subjects are garden scenes, in which he makes sunlight blaze quite splendidly, and his Autumnal glimpses of the Valley o f the Morin are equally successful in rendering the beauty o f tender atmosphere. What one misses in his work is the sense o f form that penetrates the most mysterious veils of color in the work o f the great masters.”
EXHIBITION OF W A T E R -C O L O R S, PASTELS AN D ETCHINGS BY JO H N M A R IN H E R E is an air at once of something extraordinarily gay and sober in the atmosphere of the exhibitions which we are growing used to expect at the “ Little G alleries” of the Photo-Secession of N ew York. B y a singular contradiction (for everything that we find there is of the newest and most original type) the impression that we receive on entering is rather of having stepped out of some new world— that new world which is ever about us, of raw or of but half-formed materials in the making— into some antique one, some ancient playground of bygone, half-forgotten memories. Works of art, paintings, drawings, photographs, strange to our sight, meet us and half startle, yet do not affright us. It is as if the friend whom we had gone forth to greet had surprised us at some beforehand corner by the way. Y et all this is less than h alf the truth, for it is but the image of a parable. The real truth is that the Photo-Secession Galleries are an imaginatively ideal link between the present and the past. Throbbing, pulsing with life, the life and artistic achieve ment of to-day, it is nevertheless a life that connects itself immutably with the past, because its roots, as has been said o f all religions, are so “ deep in the earth of man’ s nature.” T he sunshine that dwells here is of an ever new-old world, undimmed by the “ pink-rose and drab” of a sickly or sentimental existence, and rises and falls in spots of the purest gayety or sadness; and the music that we hear is of that old symbolic type, that erstwhile accompanied the gathering of harvests, or the dance of maidens under the shade, or even the ritual of death. T h at exhibition from which this piece of writing borrows its title is apt illustration of my meaning. John M arin is a remarkably distinguished fol lower in that long line of distinguished British water-color painters. It is a commonplace of knowledge that the art of water-color painting or drawing is the peculiar heritage of British genius. With its primary beginnings in the work of some early Dutch masters, or in those old arts of miniature painting and M .S. illumination, it was the special glory of British painters, without extraneous aid from their Continental brethren, to originate, practice and dis cover some of the unrivalled beauties of expression that are to be found within this apparently simple medium. Girtin, Turner, Constable are names to conjure with to-day in the enchanted fairyland of water-color drawing, at the very moment of its emergence even from those simple uses in plain architectur al and topographical illustration; nor can we say, or need we feel, after exam ining M r. M arin’ s work, that that old glory has yet altogether passed away from the British race,— if M r. M arin, as an American, will allow us to include him in so generous a category. It was highly natural in an art so apparently simple as this of water-color that the decay in taste and execution should have set in when it did. We have the common instance of the child into whose hands a box of water-colors (sel dom of “ oils,” be it noted) is placed as a ready instrument to keep it from crying, or of the grocer’ s boy, it may be, who blithely asks M r. So-and-so, the “ artist,”
if he will “ paint” the picture that he has saved from the wreck of a weekly illustrated journal,— no less than the manifold uses to which color tinting has been put in the service of modern mechanical processes of color reproduction. But we have only to consult, what we are seldom able to do, the best examples in this highly refined art to understand how utterly they are removed alike in design and execution from the worse than wantonly ineffective and insipid efforts of its unnumbered practitioners. In America the art has scarcely emerged from its infantile stage— of gross output and little genuine or serious effectiveness. In England, in the hands of a small number of really distinguished artists it has been, and is being, rapidly saved from the utter forlornness into which it had fallen. On the European continent, where it is not so much either practiced or mispracticed, and especially in France, its reputation is safe in the hands of a few men of genius who in this, as in other branches of art to-day, have given to it a new and vital meaning of expression beyond the common run of stagnant effort. T he singular charm and notable characteristic o f M r. M arin’ s work,— and it is one which belongs to-day rather to the French than to the strictly British school (if we exclude the three most brilliant modern British exponents— I mean Melville, Brabazon and Whistler, all three now deceased)— is his ability to conceive and to carry out his scheme in terms from first to last of pure color— what is sometimes called “ impressionistic” painting. But if we examine this so-called “ impressionistic” method in relation to water-color drawing we shall find, I believe, what we might not have expected, an even more intimate and logical relation to past models in this branch of art than is directly discernible in the art of oil-painting. Putting aside for a moment the work of such singular men of genius as Turner and Constable, who in this as in all else that they touched used their art solely as a vehicle of expression for their own imaginative fancies,— Constable, we instinctively feel, was more at ease even in his water-color sketches and studies than elsewhere in attaining to that desired condition of “ forgetting that he had ever seen a picture,” — in the works that still remain to us from other hands, a lovely heritage of water-color draw ing, we find, even within the extraordinarily wide boundaries of expression that water-color drawing had found for itself, the same principles holding good throughout. T he special poetical possibilities that lay within the compass of this medium, arising primarily out of the luminousness and transparency of its color, that received such a tremendous impetus from the fiery visions of T urner’s fancy, still depended as ever for their effect upon what might be termed the architectonics of a scene, what was in the beginning the mere substance of light and shade, the mere “ drawing” balanced by those thin stains or washes of monochrome (as in the tinted figure sketches of Rembrandt or of Rodin), and only afterwards and by degrees of local patches of color. And, inevitably, as the joy and delight in color and in an exalted color-sense arose like a lumi nous phantom out of the dark night o f plain chiaroscuro, the need for an elaborate structural drawing gave w ay as the mists at dawn and it was found that the world could be as steadfastly built up out of the miraculous image of a spectrum. T h at is what we find, I think, in the transition from those great 42
men of the middle period, such as De Wint, Cotman, Cox, towards the most brilliant among the moderns, and it is among these that we must class John M arin, his technique and his temperament. While in England there is still a tendency (in the nature of a refined reaction) to give the more accentuate drawing in a water-color its right play, in the other men I have mentioned drawing is interpreted in terms of color, and in the hands of such modern French artists as Signac and Matisse glows and glows again as a mosaic of the purest pattern. In either case these are the earlier and the later heights which separate that dark gulf of awful and hopeless banality in which are sunk the whole of those salmagundi potpourri of water-color drawing, painting or hotch-potch, in which a texture that imitates “ oils” or an interest that rivals reality is more thought of than the simple delight of discovering by pencil and brush the structural beauties of nature in the massing and modelling of light and aerial and colored perspectives. M r. M arin is a poet and a visionary of the first order, a dreaming and enchanted (sometimes a well-nigh intoxicated) lover of life, but— and therein lies the secret of his special skill—with his hand ever firmly set upon the throb and pulse of that which delights him: the warp and woof of color and the dots and passages of motion in the rapturous lyric o f all things under the sun. It is a world of color that he sees, and often his colors speak to us through the voice of a mist, blowing themselves into the air to acknowledge themselves. In some o f his studies it is as if he felt there to be only two elements in the universe: sun and water, which, acting and reacting upon one another, drew out of the earth all its forces and material objects, only to shed them upon us again in lustres of returning light. Veil beyond veil, and mist beyond irides cent mist, rise these tearful images, transfiguring all things within their reach, till heaven and earth, the sky, hills, lakes, the contours o f all nature, seem com pounded into one measureless and exhaustless film. T h is is indeed to me such “ a stuff as dreams are made of” — the dreams of a wakeful and watchful spirit; for never does he lose himself in shapes of mystic incoherency. His exquisite eye is the nervous web on which all this weft of imageries is thrown. There is the beauty of a great and enchanting mystery in almost all his work; but always we feel the guidance of a bold and happy spirit leading us through the maze of all this illimitable dreaming. It is because his “ manner” is so simple. It were easy to tell, even if we did not recognize, the landscape in which the most of his scenes are laid. It has been well said o f the French land scape that “ mere topography, the simple material, counts for so little, and all being so pure, untouched and tranquil in itself, mere light and shade have such easy work in modulating it to one dominant tone.” For M r. M arin is not always figuring things to us even in the most luminous of mists. The great variety of his interests is one of the astonishing properties o f his powers. Sometimes it is the clear, beaten air after rain that attracts him, and he has stopped— all day it may be— on the hither side of some little valley, or on some sunny orchard slope, we may imagine, to watch and note how the light of clouds plays above and about some mountain village, with its shadowed ram parts, dreaming “ under skies of dream.” 43
I have said that he was a visionary with his hand upon the pulse of light. He does not paint you a picture as a print or a colored photograph would paint it for you, but he extracts those essential qualities in it which belong to it in the sensations, and placing them together with unerring skill (as words are placed together unchangeably in a lyric), the structure of his scene grows naturally out of his hand. Y et, sometimes, I imagine, he feels that his subject is too big. He does not then profess to compass all the moods o f nature, nor, like Joshua, nor like the second, or the third, or the fifth-rate artist, bid the sun stand still in the heavens, that he may copy down with patient skill and minute exactitude day after day each feather and bloom upon the face of nature. Rather, his colors, like brilliant words, jolt and are shut sharp. It is as if we heard the hissing of his quickly indrawn breath, the sharp setting of his teeth, and then, perchance, the tremulous quaver o f a tear— as in those old German M innelied, or in the sonnets of Shakes peare, where passion, having risen to its full throb can go no farther, and breaks into a smile or sigh, a ripple of suppressed emotion, a rhymed couplet, O hei! and Tandaradei! Perhaps it was this aspect of his painting which suggested to someone— a “ painter” himself, I believe— to call it “ child ish.” Well, it may be, I cannot say; it is too difficult and unprofitable for me to judge of the natural years in which wisdom may occur or still remain absent. But at least it is sure that, when in this mood, perhaps, M r. M arin finishes up a picture with half a dozen grave splashes of blue in the midst of otherwise color less dank clouds, it is not done for nothing; it does not spoil the picture— it serves to balance it in the right place, and so helps to express the mood o f a ll the rest. “ L ’ art, mes amis, c’est d’ etre absolument soi-meme,” —which only means that you must first have something to say, and thereafter know how to say it. M r. M arin suggests one other artistic relationship. It is with one of the great est and the most fascinating of the lesser genius of the nineteenth century. I mean Jongkind. In the goodly company of such men it would be easy to predict for him, a young man, what I am sure would not interest him: a distinguished career, orwhat must interest us, perpetual fellowship with the most distinguished of his craft. T o create lovely things one must see lovely things, hope lovely things, and desire lovely things, and that is what John M arin, in his intense and simple fashion, is greatly doing. W m . D. M a c C o ll .
For the sake o f record we reprint some of the criticisms that appeared in the daily press upon this exhibition: B. P. Stephenson in the “ Evening Post” : “ John M arin is exhibiting some forty water-colors, a few pastels and etchings, at the PhotoSecession Galleries, No. 291 Fifth avenue. We have seen strange things in these galleries— the least strange are M r. M arin ’s works, although we acknowledge there are many subjects the artist imagines and we cannot comprehend. Still, when we came out o f the galleries the other day we felt a good deal like Balam , the prophet— not that we had been sent there to curse, nor that we came
out blessing; the ass incident we omit; but we had learned something o f the futility o f Biblical cursing. Now, to begin with, the men who gather together in these galleries, and the men whose works are exhibited on its walls, do believe in themselves— and that is an important item— but they do not believe that they have reached— some of them do not believe they ever will reach— the point for which they are striving. They are all at sea, and they acknowledge it, each man on a different tack trying to reach a point whose whereabouts and whose direction he does not even know. And each man appears to believe that every other man is on the wrong tack. There can be no commer cialism in such galleries. A Photo-Secession mouse would not have a much better fate than one in a church. Alfred Stieglitz, we know, pays for the galleries out of the hope of leading us to what he believes to be the art of the future, but he acknowledges he does not know where that art will reach. “ ‘We are in somewhat of the same condition as they were in the early days o f the Renaissance, he will tell you, seeking for the unknown. I don’t know when it will be reached, but I do see that these men are alive and vital, and my object is to show to Americans who have not the opportunity o f going abroad, what vitality in art exists there.’ But to go back to M arin’s pictures. There are some of his paintings, which, as you enter the gallery, strike you as living; for instance, the ‘M ove ment,’ ‘ Pont de l’A lm a.’ But do those deep blue spots on the clouds help the ‘Movement ?’ ‘N o; but I had to put them there,’ says the artist; ‘they were not there, but to express my feeling they had to be there.’ M r. M arin again expresses his feelings, or, rather, attempts to, in a village that has been almost drowned into yellows and blues by a downpour o f rain. It was rather discon certing, at the commencement of your education, to hear a woman who knew all about art, announce that M r. M arin had ‘succeeded in getting that proportion o f color after which the Orientals seek.’ And that she felt when she looked at the picture that she was about to tread on an Eastern carpet, while he was telling you that he had failed in his object, that what he wanted to translate was the brightness of the colors on the houses after the rainstorm and the still threatening aspect of the clouds. We do not pretend to have yet understood M r. M arin’ s w ork; we can see beauty in Notre Dam e,’ but anybody could make that dear old lady beautiful; in the ‘Three Towers of Rouen,’ in the ‘ Pierrefonds,’ in a delightful pastel of St. M ark of Venice, but we cannot discover the truth of the ‘ Suspended Sun.’ Th e fact of the matter seems to be that those men, and they appear to be modest about it, have not yet learned to tell what they feel. I f they really have anything great to tell, they may be hampered by persons who are flattering them with the tale that they have al ready told all that is, and even the most modest yield to flattery, especially men. Th e writer, once an unbeliever, does hope to live to see something come out of this vital movement. A t the same time he trusts that some of the men in this disorganized crowd will not carry their ideas to such an extravagant extent that they will drive out the doubting souls.”
Elizabeth Luther Cary in the “ N ew Y o rk T im es” : “ A t the Photo-Secession Galleries are some water-colors, pastels and etchings by M arin, many o f them exquisite in color, but too much influenced by the theories of Matisse to please a public or critics not yet advanced to that stage of ‘ up-to-dateness.’ M arin’s delicate sense of form keeps him from throwing his composition to the four winds of heaven, and his no less delicate sense o f color inspires him to charming harmonies which, however, are no more charming than those which he produced when he valued more highly than now the gentle art o f representation. “ In one of his Venetian pastels he seems to us to have achieved a conspicuous success, and we ascribe it to the underlying tone of the brown paper holding together the scattered notes of color as white paper never does. It is not impossible to use white as what might be called a binding tone for a variety of colors, but it is so difficult that a wise painter commonly saves himself that trouble and secures a no less delightful result. “ It is not, however, to be denied that the purity of these fluid greens and blues and the brilli ancy of these patches of cold white occasionally, if not always, combine in a decorative effect of great loveliness. I f we were content to have our pictures made o f abstract shapes of color as our Eastern carpets are made we should be very well satisfied indeed to have in a faintly tinted room some of these fresh, sweet harmonies. One or two of them look as though they had been stained with the very dyes o f the Spring grass and the rain-washed heavens. Th e painter’s instinct for recognizing the possibilities of structure by color alone is extraordinary, and we find his color more
and more refreshing and more truly stimulating than the hot harmonies o f Matisse. Although he usually is accepted in this country at least as a follower o f M atisse, M r. M arin derives more logic ally from Cezanne. M r. M arin gives us atmosphere, and in doing so takes his picture out o f the purely decorative class. I f he would combine color with his etched line, thus sparing us the effort o f doing our part in fulfilling his barely indicated impression o f a given scene, we should probably be able to praise him without stint. It is barely possible that he is seeking for something more difficult to win than our passing praise. “ T h e etchings are crisp in line and full o f character, the ‘Nôtre Dame vue du Quai Celestin’ having in particular that movement and sparkle which seems the very life o f an etching. T h e next exhibition at these galleries will show us M atisse himself.”
Israel L . White in the “ N ewark Evening N ew s” : “ A t the Little G allery o f the Photo-Secession, John M arin is showing more o f his water-colors. A year ago a few o f them were exhibited at the same time that Alfred M aurer showed the outward and visible signs of his conversion to pure color and daring uses o f it. Since, we have waited for more— of M arin. “ We have sympathy with those who are responsible for the landscape exhibition at the National Arts Club. T o arrange a large collection o f pictures o f diverse character is never easy. T h e task is made harder when the collection includes daring canvases, startling innovations upon the estab lished order o f things. Whatever merit there is in the strange work o f M aurer, Steichen and Prendergast is hid when a few o f each one’s paintings are hung together. It advertises their peculiarity and furnishes a temptation to laugh rather than an inspiration to inquire with open minds what these men are trying to do. “ M arin’s water-colors are not in any w ay commonplace, nor are they so radical that they can be called ‘freakish’ by the most unsympathetic audience. We wrote last year that we had not seen their superiors and the present larger exhibition only confirms this opinion. In the intervening months few days have passed in which we have not seen many pictures; few weeks in which we have not seen something different. We have noted the dearth o f true water-colors and heard con fessions from men who use oils with distinction that they cannot use the other medium. Respect for water-colors must grow in such an environment. “ It is by his handling of white— white paper, o f course— that M arin first attracts attention. T h e paper is not obtrusive ; that would be a defect. Mention is made o f it simply by w ay of informa tion. And then it is by the brilliance and harmony of color. But color alone never made a picture. “ ‘Th e art o f effective writing,’ said Jam es Russell Lowell, ‘is to know how much to leave in the inkpot.’ So, painting. M arin is a primitive for simplicity, for leaving out everything that can be left out. But, with all his simplicity, he accomplishes substantial results. Witness his picture o f the bridge over the Seine. Notice how solid it is; how defiant o f the floods. Such facts are not always recorded in painting and especially by the water-color painters. Y e t these are the essential facts and their narration proves the artistic caliber o f the painter. “ How true it is that the first requisite is the ability to see the important things and to see them in pictures. It is easily said but seldom accomplished. W histler had the artistic eye and Abbot T h ayer and all the others who have the real gift. “ A rt is so frequently misunderstood; not painting only, but all art. Fictitious charms are palmed off as the real thing. M ock heroics and weak sentiment— the gingerbread o f ornate deco ration— are offered in place of more real and enduring elements o f beauty. It is a pretty tune, an effective elaboration of detail, a story that touches the heart, that takes the place o f fine musical phrasing, o f simple lines in satisfying architectural proportion, o f true characterization in fiction. T h e superficial usurps the place of the elements. “ Need we defend the eternal truth that art in all things depends upon an imagination that can see the whole picture and balance it P It seems as if a child could paint one of M arin’s pictures— if he could see it. T h e curved line of a bridge, a few dabs o f color to represent the people walking on it, a mass o f color beneath to represent the shadow under it, a strip of green water to hold it up and make it substantial. T h at is all; but how much it is when it is put together! “ These pictures have been adroitly hung. Some of them must be admired at once; others are more subtle. T h ey would be passed by unless they were placed side by side so that the eye wanders
naturally from the obviously beautiful to the one beside it. M r. Stieglitz is very foxy. He knows how to show pictures. “ ‘M oving Spots’ is a clever bit o f painting. Strong dabs o f color in the clouds, accentuated patches o f sky, have no apparent reason for being there. Eliminate them and the picture is common place; with them, the clouds move. Is it a trick ? All painting is artificial. T o obtain the illusion is the artist’s job. Does he accomplish it ? Then he succeeds. Better an illogical dab o f ultramarine and scudding clouds that scud than illogical dabs and clouds that hang like lead and refuse to budge. “ We confess that we cannot follow M arin in all his uses o f color. We have not lived with his pictures long enough. He has new combinations. We have heard new phrases in music and literature, to which we had to become accustomed. A t the moment we doubt that we ever will enjoy some of them and it will occasion great surprise if we ever see in them the great beauty that belongs to his simpler, well-seen pictures in which he has used white with such rare artistic sense. It is an exhibition that should not be passed by; by far the best o f the season in this gallery.”
J . Edgar Chamberlain in the “ Evening M a il” : “ John M arin is one o f the young American-Parisians who, like Joan o f Arc, have heard voices telling them to crusade against the powers that prevail in the world. He makes remarkable water-colors and pastels, full of joyousness o f color, and reveals much skill in drawing. But many o f them are incomprehensible to ordinary people. “ And yet M r. M arin’s water-colors and pastels exhibited this week and next at the Photo-Se cession are by no means all incomprehensible. H is ‘ Pierrefonds Castle,’ and several drawings of a great bridge on the Seine are quite easy to understand, and are excellent and solid in drawing. M any o f his drawings are nothing more than swirls o f color; but the color is delightful in its quality, and often wonderfully true to those fleeting and ineffable sky tints which are the despair o f painters. “ T h e interpretation o f these intense moods o f nature is a legitimate ambition for any artist, and M r. M arin is to be felicitated on the zeal with which he adheres to his ideal. “ He shows also remarkable etchings, freely and broadly executed.”
M r. Harrington in the “ N ew Y o rk H erald” : “ M r. John M arin, o f Paris and N ew Y o rk , at the Photo-Secession, has asked the public to help him understand what he thinks he is trying to do. He does not seem to know the exact trend o f his endeavors in the water-colors, pastels and etchings which he has assembled. From the neutral grayish yellow walls o f the gallery, strange, wild things in lavender, blues and yellows and greens seem to leap out and seize the visitor. M r. Alfred Stieglitz, who may be there to explain M r. M arin, says the exhibition is great. T h e exhibition, outlandish as it seems, gives the idea that the artist is conscientiously trying to get somewhere, either going or coming. There are fortythree water-colors, twenty pastels and some ten etchings in the display.”
TH E LOVERS OF O R E L A Y A Ballade to George Moore He met me on Fifth Avenue— I ’ d known the fellow long ago— His face was round, his eye was blue, His garb precise, his speech was slo w ; He said “ Y o u ’ ve travelled to and fro, Been much in foreign parts they say; Y o u ’ve read George Moore; you ought to know, Is there a town called O relay ?” “ Dear G o d !” I cried, “ As if I knew !” And then “ T hank God we’ve met, for lo I ’ll make a ballade out o f yo u ” At which the red blood mounted slow And he turned touchily, as though He thought me rude, and went his way. H e’s asking yet, as like as no, “ Is there a town called O relay ?” Ah, plodding souls, who still pursue T he pot of gold beneath the bow! For whom alone those truths are true T hat you can touch to prove them so! Who fill the lamp, but miss the glow; Whose beauty’s feet are feet of clay; Who ask (we knew you’d want to know) “ Is there a town called O re la y ?” And if there were ? In Xanadu, N ear Alph the sacred river’s flow, Would you go feed on honey-dew I f one should tell you how to go ? Peace, little souls! What price H-O ? And Borden’s M ilk ? Leave Y e a and N ay, N or ask your hearts (that do not know) “ Is there a town called O re la y ?” L ’E
n v o i.
Geographers, all hail to you Whose tinted maps so neatly show T h e latitude of Timbuctoo, T he lanes wheredown the Trade Winds blow, T he metes and bounds of M exico! All hail, and yet forgive us, pray, Who do not come to you to know “ Is there a town called O relay ?” J . B. K e r f o o t 48
P H O T O -SEC ESSIO N N O T E S H E Photo-Secession is continuing its demonstrations this season with a series of exhibitions which have attracted unusual interest. Not only the number, but the quality of the visitors has been gratifying. Painters, art critics, directors of museums, in this country and abroad, art students, collectors, as well as laymen have followed the exhibitions most faith fully, and have been warm in their praise of the work done by the PhotoSecession because of the opportunity it has given the public to study the best manifestations of the newer artistic tendencies. In considering the exhibitions it should be remembered that the Little Gallery is nothing more than a laboratory, an experimental station, and must not be looked upon as an Art Gallery in the ordinary sense of that term.
S T E IC H E N C O L O R PH O T O G R A P H S
Simultaneously with Steichen’s exhibition of paintings at the Montross Gallery, examples of his recent color transparencies were being shown at the Photo-Secession Galleries. The daring o f some of his color combinations can only be excused by the success with which he solved the problems he had set for himself. He seems to have achieved the maximum of brilliancy and lumi nosity obtainable from the process. Interesting experiments in artificial light effects show the range o f conditions under which the process can be successfully used by capable hands. M A R IN ’ S W A T E R - C O L O R S
John M arin’ s water-colors which decorated the walls of the Little Galleries from February seventh to the twenty-fifth show a decided advance of this talented young man along the lines exemplified at the exhibition of his work given last season. He is less conscious of his technique. His treatment of color is broader and the result more convincing. One feels that he knows what he is about and that he succeeds in expressing himself. T his exhibition is more fully dealt with on another page of this number of C a m e r a W o r k . M A T IS S E D R A W IN G S
Coming at a time when the name, Matisse, is being used indiscriminately to explain the influence to which any painter at present may have succumbed whose work is unacademic, the exhibition of Matisse drawings, and photo graphs of his drawings, held from February twenty-seventh to March twentieth was most opportune. T he readers of C a m e r a W o r k will remember that two years ago the Photo-Secession originally introduced Matisse to the American public. T h at exhibition included drawings, etchings, water-colors, lithographs, and one painting. The recent exhibition exemplified positively the power and sanity of the man, his scientific and almost mathematical attitude toward form, his almost Oriental sense of decorative spotting, so ir reconcilably opposed to some of the more emotional tendencies for which critics have tried to make him responsible. “ Influenced by M atisse” has become the 47
common explanation of anything that seems queer, any departure from the old standards of artistic representation. T he N ew Y o rk public was given a good chance for comparison and study in the exhibition which followed of the work of some of his supposed American disciples. For the sake of record, we herewith reprint some o f the criticisms which appeared on this exhibition in the N ew Y o rk Press. Jam es Huneker in the “ New Y o rk Sun” : “ Henri M atisse drawings are on view at the gallery o f the Photo-Secession, 291 Fifth avenue (between Thirtieth and Thirty-first streets. T ak e the elevator if you do not weigh over 90 pounds); and if you go there between 12 and 1 o’clock, midday, you m ay miss the grand panjandrum o f the gallery, Alfred Stieglitz. This warning is not meant to depreciate that ingenious gentleman, rather it is as a safeguard against the seductiveness of his golden voice. Once open the porches of your ears to his tones and ere long you will begin to believe that photography it was that originated impressionism; that camera and M onet rhyme; that the smeary compound of mush and mezzo tint which they have christened the N ew Photography is one o f the fine arts. T h ere’s no resisting Stieglitz. He believes what he preaches, a rare virtue nowadays; and he has done so much to open the eyes o f the philistines with his little exhibitions that he ought to go into the H all o f Fame. Th e John M arin show last week was interesting and the first M atisse exhibition; above all, the Toulouse-Lautrec drawings. Th is second batch o f M atisse is fascinating; where his followers plod panting miles behind, he leaps the stiffest barriers by reason o f his sheer virtuosity. His real friends (not the sort that moan in ecstasy over his new monkeyshines) and critics have noted, not without regret, that the M aster (he has attained the dignity o f capitalization) is given to the bootless task o f shocking the bourgeois. Poor old bourgeois; how they have been shocked from the “ E rnani” days o f Théophile Gautier to the macabre merrymaking o f Huysmans and the fumisterie o f Paul Gauguin! And the young fellows are still at it. Who hasn’t contributed his share, if his boyhood were worthy the name ? Th e small boy snowballing the fat teacher is as much a symbol o f the revolt o f youth against sleek authority as is an Em m a Goldm an lecture on Ibsen for the instruction o f our police. But why M atisse ? Here is a chap whose talent is distinguished. He can make his pencil or brush sing at the bidding o f his brain; better still, that brain is fed by eyes which refuse to see humanity or landscape in the conventional terms o f the school. He wishes not only to astonish worthy folk but also to charm their check books. Paris is always a prey o f the dernier cri, and M atisse, unless he has been ousted during the last month, is not only the latest cry but, we hope, the ultimate scream. A t his worst he shocks; at his best his art is as attractive as an art can be that reveals while it dazzles, makes captive when it consoles. “ T h e two dozen and more sketches on the walls o f M r. Stieglitz’s gallery are o f a range and intensity that must set tingling the pulse o f any honest craftsman. It is not alone the elliptical route pursued by M atisse in his desire to escape the obvious and suppress the inutile, but the creative force o f his sinuous emotional line. It is a richly fed line bounding, but not wiry, as is Blatte’s. Its power o f evoking tactile sensations is as vigorous, rhythmic and subtle as the orchestration of Richard Strauss. Little wonder collectors in Paris are buying M atisse just because o f his emotional suggestiveness. There is a sketch in the middle o f the east wall before which William Blake would have paused and wondered. It is worthy o f Blake, or it might have been signed, despite its casual air, by one o f the early Italian masters. Orphic or Bacchic, we can’t say which, these tiny figures hold their own in a composition simple to bareness, each endowed with an ecstatic individual life. In the right foreground, as seen by the spectator, a woman lies on the ground, a man sits hunched up near by. T h e pair, without the remotest hint o f the conventional erotic, tell more in a few lines than could a volume. O nly Rodin has compassed such, though his is the stenographic method of the sculptor, not o f the painter, especially o f a painter whose color is so bewilderingly opulent as that o f M atisse. We can recall the names of but two living painters whose drawings possess the vital line o f the Frenchm an; they are Augustus John, in whose veins flows fiery Welsh blood, and Arthur B. Davies, American by birth, by descent Welsh. Those who have not studied the draw ings of Davies don’t know the real Davies.
“ After all nature is a dictionary; the artist goes to her for words, not to copy; he must phrase in his own personal way if he expects to achieve originality. With the exceptions of Whistler and Cezanne no one has studied the patterns o f the East as Matisse. He always sees the decoration and makes you see it, unless you are blinded by the memory o f some other man’s line. There is no monopoly in the conventional, and because thousands o f painters have envisaged the nude in a certain— and usually the same— monotonous fashion that should not attenuate our agreement with the vision o f Matisse. His knowledge is great, his simplicity greater. Such problems as are set forth and mastered in that woman— we only see her back— who has thrown herself forward in sheer weariness must extort a tribute o f admiration from any fair-minded lover o f art. Another woman places one arm over the other close at the wrists. A series of delicate muscular acts are involved. Immobility is the result, but even when the body is at rest the muscles are never quite still. The rich interplay of flexor and extensor in the muscles of the Matisse models delights and appalls. Who has ever dared before to push so far, dared to annex territory that is supposed to belong to the anatomist proper? Y e t no suspicion of the anatomy lesson is conveyed in these singularly alive nudes. M atisse is dominated by an idea, but it is not a didactic idea. His color sense is profound. Fancy black and white still life that brings to you the jewelled sensation of fruit and flowers! Patterns, whether Persian or Japanese, are to be detected in his landscape bits and still life. And what mastery in spacings! F ar back his art is rooted in M anet and Cezanne; the abridgments of the one and the sense of structural depth and weight of the other, with much of his harmonic sense, are suggested in both the portraits and the flower pieces; yet you feel the subtle pull o f the East throughout all. Some of his creatures are not presentable in academic studies but you forget their pose and pessimism and the hollow pits that serve for their ferocious eyes in the truth and magic of their contours. One woman with balloon hips is almost a caricature until you discover the repetitions of curves in sky, bodily structure and earth. In a word, an amazing artist, original in observation and a scorner o f the facile line, the line called graceful, sweet, genteel; worse yet, moral. Men like Matisse and Richard Strauss do good in stirring the stale swamp o f respectability, notwithstanding the violence o f their methods. Otherwise art would become, does become, a frozen symbol. These barbarous natures bring with them fresh rhythms— and then they, too, succumb to the love of the sensational; they, too, more’s the pity, cultivate their hysteria, following the evil advice of Charles Baudelaire, and finally become locked in the relentless grip o f their own limitations. All things pass and perish and in a dozen years children may be taken to special matinees of “ Elektra.” there to be amused, as they are amused to-day, by the antics o f the animals and monsters in W agner’s “ R ing,” and the M atisse drawings may be used for the instruction of maidenly beginners. Who knows! T his exhibition is more instructive and moving than a century o f academy shows. “ I f you can’t swallow Matisse go to the Fine Arts Building on West Fifty-seventh street and look at Kenyon Cox’ s mural decoration for the public library of Winona, M inn. O r there is Whistler’s “ Fur Jack et,” at M acbeth’ s, 450 Fifth avenue. Heaven knows it is soothing as well as subtle!”
B. P. Stephenson in the N. Y . “ Evening Post” : “ Studies in the nude by Henri M atisse are being shown at the Photo-Secession Galleries, No. 291 Fifth avenue. Th e exhibition is one of the series we have already spoken of, which Alfred Stieglitz is presenting to the American public— not with any hope of gain, for it is absolutely im possible to pay the expenses of the galleries out of them, since the sales can be but few and far be tween, but simply to show that a new movement is taking place in art. T h at it is great art he does not pretend to say; that it will last or what its effect on art will be he does not pretend to know; but he does insist that at the present moment it is a vital movement and should be recognized as such. The sincerity of the man is so strong that he almost convinces one that he is right, that what appear as extravagant contortions in M atisse’s figures are but caricatures— that is, character emphasized, without which there can be no great art. “ There is a photograph of the painting of a woman, so contorted in form that even Stieglitz does not pretend to comprehend it, but that M atisse’ s coloring may explain it is quite possible. How strongly Stieglitz believes in the new movement is shown by his offer to an Academician to give one wall in the Photo-Secession G allery to be hung with the best drawings that the Academy can produce, while he will hang on an opposite wall a selection of his own. He will then leave it to a
jury, composed wholly o f Academicians, to decide which wall exhibits the greatest vitality. We hold no brief for this new movement; we doubt whether we shall ever be convinced by it, but we cannot help seeing there is vitality in it, and we advise any one who is interested in what is going on among the men who are trying to get rid o f what they consider deadwood in art to visit the galleries and get Alfred Stieglitz’s views. He is about the only one of the Photo-Secession band who seems to be able to explain what the men are trying to do.”
M r. M ather in the “ Evening Post” : “ Th e little collection o f drawings by Henri M atisse, at the Photo-Secession, No. 291 Fifth avenue, has already been briefly described. A second visit suggests certain critical afterthoughts. It would be well if the visitor could forget that M atisse is the object o f a cult, the reputed possessor of strange secrets and philosophies, the regenerator o f the torpid art of the age. It would be well to ignore all this and suppose that these are anonymous sketches which the post has brought to M r. Stieglitz, and which have so warmed his heart that he has asked his friends in to see them. Looked at in this way, the dread Matisses would lose all their portentousness. We should see merely a handful o f peculiarly serious and drastic studies from the nude model. T h ey are no more odd than working drawings usually are. M atisse’ s concern is in the tension, weight, and equipoise o f the figure as a whole. He merely spots in the features, as negligible quantities, though now and then a skeletonized face has extraordinary character. I f he had merely omitted the features, as draftsmen o f the figure often do, seven-eighths of the repellant oddity o f this work would disappear. As it is, the visitor must not bother about the faces, but keep his eye on the whole design until its energy and rhythm strike home. “ M atisse conceives the body as a powerful machine working within certain limits o f balance. T h e minute form of the tackles and levers does not signify for him, what counts is the energy ex pended and the eloquent pauses which reveal the throb o f the mechanism. T h e important thing is that muscles should draw over the bone pulleys, that the thrust of a foreshortened limb should be keenly felt, that all the gestures should fuse in a dynamic pattern. So much for the vision. It differs in no essential respect from that of great draughtsmen of all ages. A M atisse drawing, looked at without prejudice, is no more bizarre than a study o f action by Hokusai or Michelangelo. It belongs in the great tradition o f all art that has envisaged the human form in terms of energy and counterpoise. Look at any o f these drawings, the walking woman so sensitively balanced, the crouching woman, she who averts some attack, she who stands firmly with her leg doubled back sharply on a chair. In the last drawing note how the bulk, and retreat, o f an almost invisible calf of the foreshortened leg is indicated by a single powerful stroke that tells of the tension athwart the knee. Such drawing is odd only because it is so fine that much of it there cannot be. T h e near est analogies to these sketches are those remarkable tempera studies by Tintoretto which have recently been discovered and published in part in the Burlington Magazine. In fact, M atisse is akin to all the artists who approach the figure with what Vasari calls furia. T h e Frenchman is a kind of modern Pollaiolo. “ His originality lies less in vision than in a strenuous economy o f workmanship. He will have the fewest contours and the most expressive, will not shirk any syncopation or exaggeration where he seeks an effect. T h at his method is really more concise than that o f Michelangelo may be doubted. Hokusai’s is certainly more direct and simple and equally potent. A calculated rough ness which occasionally disguises itself as the queer linear slackness with which Rodin has fam iliar ized us, brings M atisse’ s manner very close to that o f the aboriginal designers who scratched animal forms on bones in times pre-historic, or only yesterday adorned with admirable animal paintings the caves o f the South African veldt. These savage masterpieces show the same keen sense for balance and significant action. M atisse is reputed to have individual and novel theories about counterpoise, correlation o f gesture, etc. It may be so, but these drawings merely suggest a fresh attitude toward the model, and a desire for unhackneyed poses. T h at some doctrine may be involved is sug gested in those caricatures in which he bloats and distorts the figure, evolving a grotesquely expres sive pattern out o f a pose that already grazes the impossible. T h e ingenuity o f such studies will escape any but a trained eye. Perhaps he is experimenting to ascertain the bounds of the physic ally possible and pictorially credible. It would be like the eminently intelligent and experimental nature of the man to do so. 50
“ These studies are of a sort that is not usually shown to the public. T h ey represent what most artists regard not as results, but as processes. Some hazard always attends the exhibition of such flotsam of the workshop. Still, when an artist is safely dead, we do not hesitate to show his working sketches. Th e red chalk fragments of Andrea del Sarto are among our most precious relics. So when work is o f the quality of M atisse’s we think it is right to let the public be tested by it. Th ey may, probably w ill not like it. I f so, the loss is theirs. “ Y et, there is one question which a plain man might very properly ask, namely: ‘ Is this all there is of it, or is it a preparation for something else ?’ T o us, these drawings have a painful, we trust a misleading, air of finality. T h e few compositions represented in chalks or photography are merely extensions o f the single figure or quite commonplace caligraphies. It is possible that M atisse will always be making these magnificent studies. T h e present exhibition gives small hint of constructive imagination. I f so, he will merely take his place with other geniuses who have sacrificed themselves in the passionate invention of processes. Pollaiola and Hokusai, to a consider able extent, represent this inability to organize a complicated whole. Meanwhile one is grateful for so much. It is no small gift to have one’s vision toned up to this strenuously controlled enthu siasm for the human mechanism. T h e effect o f this work upon modern art can only be beneficial. Matisse as painter is almost unknown to the present writer, who suspects that there individual and arbitrary caprice may be masking as genial invention. As for these drawings, there is no manner of doubt. Th ey are in the high tradition o f fine draftsmanship o f the figure. If, on suffi cient acquaintance, they still seem merely eccentric to any one, let him rest assured that the lack o f centrality is not with them, but with himself.”
J . Edgar Chamberlain in the “ N ew Y o rk M ail” : “ Drawings and photographs of M atisse, the master and prophet of the Wild M en, are on exhibition at the Photo-Secession. Matisse is a great man. It seems to be supposed that there is no judicial, middle course to be adopted, or to be thought of, in connection with him. Y ou must either worship M atisse, or hate and despise him. “ But why ? It does not seem to be quite impossible to regard him philosophically. He is simply a strong man and a gifted artist who has been inspired to seize upon and hold great hand fuls o f the essential and foundation facts o f the things he looks at. I f he draws a human figure, you perceive at once that he has given you not only the bones that are in this figure, and the muscles and flesh that are over the bones, and the gleaming skin that covers the flesh, but the most charac teristic and idiosyncratic thing about the person who possesses that flesh and those bones. It is a kind o f artistic wizardry; he seems to look through surfaces to interiors, and somehow he con vinces you that he has put the interior on the outside. “ He is not after beauty, but sometimes gets it in a large and startling measure because he gets truth, and truth is frequently— not always— beauty. “ These Matisse drawings are in any case amazing instances o f rapid, clear-seeing, revealing draughtsmanship, and are richly worth seeing. And it is not really necessary that one should hate Matisse because one loves somebody else. He is a man to study.”
M r. Harrington in the “ New Y o rk H erald” : “ Galleries filled with paintings and crowded by interested observers attest that the art season is at its zenith. There are excellently displayed exhibitions of individual artists; the annual show in oils of the Salmagundi Club is open in the little house in West Twelfth street; the jury of the National Academy of Design was busy yesterday rejecting pictures, and Mons. Henri Matisse is again here in spirit. “ Mons. M atisse’s spirit has come in a collection of his drawings and photographs of his paintings aligned in the Little Gallery of the Photo-Secession at No. 291 Fifth avenue. So many persons have visited this interesting agglomeration that M r. Alfred Stieglitz, the head spirit of the gallery, fears the work of Mons. Matisse will become a fad in this city. “ Those who are interested in the new movement in art which is commonly ascribed to the influence of the French artist will find much that is vital and convincing in the present exhibition, although there are examples which seem to have been devised solely for the sake o f shocking the conventions. For example, there is a woman with twisted arms and legs who looks like the victim
o f a sawmill melodrama in which the hero had forgotten to throw off the power. How admirably Mons. Matisse can draw, however, is demonstrated by a score or more figures in which he has given not only the idea of the form but also of the substantial flesh and bone o f the subject. “ As it was the fashion several years ago to call almost everything which was different from the academic “ impressionistic,” so now the tendency is to apply the name M atisse to anything which is not understood. T h at the interesting French artist is, after all, the product o f evolution is shown in a convincing manner by a series o f photographs o f paintings by predecessors o f the present leader o f the movement beginning with Cezanne.”
Arthur Hoeber in the “ Globe” : “ I f one be in search of the latest fad in an art way, the Galleries o f the Photo-Secession, 291 Fifth avenue, are recommended. Drawings by the Frenchman, M atisse, are now shown there along with some photographs after his paintings. T h at they are unusual may not for an instant be denied. Ju st what the man is after, even his most devoted admirers find it difficult to explain. T o the general public the work will prove an enigma. Whatever the man has secured is, without ref erence to the human form, to proportion, to sanity, to taste, to any essentials of beauty, as mankind in general sees it. T h e women are deformed and wear their features in any curious manner in which M atisse’s brush happens to diverge. Whereas most painters insist on a foolish similarity as to size o f eyes, this entertaining G aul makes a departure and sets a fashion of his own, though it cannot be admitted that he has improved on the original design o f the Creator. It is likely men will still prefer their womenkind built along more conventional lines o f beauty than are those of Matisse. We are informed by M r. Stieglitz, however, and his enthusiastic band that there is a mysterious something M atisse was after which is not immediately apparent to the observer and that time will open our eyes. Such things have happened before, it is true, and they may happen again, but at the present moment o f writing these photographs of paintings seem to be as insolent as they are foolish, as graceless as they are unbeautiful, with which we leave them as worth little o f our serious consideration.”
M r. Townsend in the “ American Art N ew s” : “ T h e season o f M arch hares and Henri M atisse has arrived and in the gallery o f the PhotoSecession, No. 291 Fifth avenue, whose High Priest— and an interesting and persuasive High Priest — is M r. Alfred Stieglitz, there are now shown a number of crayon drawings, for the most part nude studies, together with some photographs by the Frenchman whom most abuse and some adore. “ It is heresy, from accepted art standards, to admire or even see anything but fantastic and often vulgar vagaries in the so-called art of M atisse, and equally heresy, from the viewpoint of his band of followers, to decry him and his works. Around Matisse now wages the war of the suffra gists and anti-suffragists— the vivisectionists and anti-vivisectionists of the art world— and he calmly pursues his path, and is getting an enormous amount o f advertising out of it all. He has seduced Alfred M aurer among American painters, and Jam es Huneker among American art writers, and who knows what is to come ? Hoeber may rave and Huneker protest, but Stieglitz smiles and M atisse meanders over paper and canvas with lines that war against all precedence and beauty, and colors never seen on sea or land. “ T h e present writer is frankly at sea. L ast year and at the Paris Autumn Salon of 1908 his very soul was sickened by the performances o f M atisse and his followers, but since then he views them even with complacency, and begins to note in them something of worth. Perhaps he may remain another year to pray, for he has faith in Stieglitz and Huneker, if not yet in Matisse. “ Th e drawings now shown certainly evince profound study and knowledge o f anatomy, and some are really convincing. Others show the human form, and especially the female form divine, in such distorted shapes, as to seem almost caricatures. But while M atisse conceals nothing, pal liates nothing, and presents the “ naked truth,” he does so with a force and intelligence that make his work worth seeing. It is especially commended to the students of the life classes in the art schools but not to ‘virginibus puerisque.’ ”
Elizabeth Luther Cary in the “ N ew Y ork Tim es” : “ A t the Photo-Secession Galleries are the drawings by M atisse and the photographs o f his paintings which are intended to lead the public gradually toward appreciation and comprehension o f his theories of color, which are his only original contribution to modern art, and, for that matter, no more strictly original than Velasquez’s system of grays and blacks or M onet’s system o f broken tones, which were only the fulfilment of theories long before tentatively put into practice. There is a good deal o f nonsense spoken about the difficulty of getting at the inner meaning o f these inno vators. T h eir inner meaning is usually no more than the effort to get life into old forms of expres sion. In the matter o f drawing it is hardly too much to say that this is always the case— in the mat ter o f color there is more fresh news coming from the impact o f art and science. “ T h e Matisse drawings that are on exhibition are out o f place in a public gallery. T h ey are studio affairs, and every pupil o f the A rt Students’ League or graduate o f Ju lian ’s would see in a moment that they indicate an immense knowledge o f the human figure and a powerful draftsman ship. We happened the other day upon a little figure drawing by Gleyre, Whistler’s early master, and knocked about nowadays by ‘modern’ critics for being academic. It looked very much like a number o f these ‘ academics’ drawn by the great Matisse. There is this difference. Matisse enjoys, as Degas did, facing the most difficult problem possible. For this reason he poses his figures in all sorts of tortured positions, to interrogate the pull on the muscles, the folds of the flesh, the geometry o f the planes, etc. We assume this to be his reason for choosing many o f his poses; at all events, this is what he gets out of it. “ Some of the drawings are more than studies. There is a woman leaning forward, resting her weight on her arms, that is Egyptian in the expression of bulk and coherence. In this figure with its rich, palpitating line, its structural forms hewn out of bold masses o f light and shadow, its big, vulgar, imposing realism, we have a clumsy but masterly creation. Then there is another figure drawing, this time a draped figure of a peasant girl in a picturesque peasant costume, that throws a strong light on what M atisse and others of his class (he has a class) have accomplished with their persistent and furious investigation o f the contours of flesh and the anatomy o f muscle and framework. Here we have a subject that every one has used, the kind o f thing that was chosen not so many years ago for a parlor decoration, painted on a tambourine, the kind o f thing water colorists brought back with them in myriad examples from Italy in their sketch boxes. As a sub ject nothing could be more invested with banal associations. W hat does M atisse make o f it ? A live creature, with a face that might have absorbed the hardness o f some rock-set mountain village, a figure heavy with much eating, massive and muscular with much exercise, a narrow brow, a big waist—watching her you see her amble with the dignity o f some tame beast of the pastures across the bit o f paper on which he has placed her. T h at, o f course, is what draftsmanship of the search ing sort does. It takes any subject and makes it the artist’s own, the arch-type from which all interpretations of it seem a weakened version. And this is the sort o f thing that we may invite the public to behold— this, and the forcible self-portrait, the two versions of a dinner table, the spark ling bouquet o f flowers, the gaunt feminine head with its planes carved out beneath the veil of skin, and apparently no intervening tissue. We do not ourselves believe in taking the public into the workroom where they criticise without knowledge, condemn without reason, and are honestly at sea. “ M atisse is heralded here by a certain group o f devotees as the master o f a school whose in fluence shall spread. It may be so, but we doubt it. T o us he seems to be the final word of that gorgeous hymn to abstract color raised by Cezanne, or possibly by some less famous predecessor. I f there is anything to be done with the theory beyond his expression o f it we cannot forecast it. We seem to see, instead, a crowd of feebler minds turning it into a more or less incoherent babbling and finally permitting it to die out altogether. It remains to be proved, however, and in the mean time he is one of the masters o f form, and in his least experimental essays a lover o f that geometry on which classic art is founded.”
P A IN T I N G S B Y Y O U N G A M E R IC A N S
The examples of the work o f G . Putnam Brinley, Arthur Beecher Carles, Arthur Dove, Laurence Fellows, Marsden Hartley, John M arin, Alfred M aurer, Eduard J . Steichen and M ax Weber, which hung simultaneously on the walls of the Little G allery from M arch twenty-first to April fifteenth, were the best possible answer to those who classed these young pioneers as common disciples of Matisse. Each one o f them is working along individual lines toward the realization of a new artistic ideal, the only points they have in common being a departure from realistic representation, the aim toward color composition, the vitality of their work, and the cheerful key in which their canvases are painted. T he first impression as one entered the room was one o f light and exuberant life. T he criticisms of the New Y o rk Press on this exhibition will be reprinted in the next number of C a m e r a W o r k . T he exhibitions which have been held during the past two years and those which are announced for the season of 1 9 1 0 - 1 9 1 1 show the logical evolution o f the work of the Association. Its name, while still explanatory of its purpose, has taken a somewhat different meaning. The Photo-Secession stood first for a secession from the then accepted standards o f photography and started out to prove that photography was entitled to an equal footing among the arts with the productions o f painters whose attitude was photographic. Having proved conclusively that along certain lines, pre-eminently in portraiture, the camera had the advantage over the best trained eye and hand, the logical deducÂ tion was that the other arts could only prove themselves superior to photogÂ raphy by making their aim dependent on other qualities than accurate reproÂ duction. T he works shown at the Little Galleries in painting, drawing and other graphic arts have all been non-photographic in their attitude, and the Photo-Secession can be said now to stand for those artists who secede from the photographic attitude toward representation of form.
Q U A L IT Y IN PRIN TS H E field o f recognized media o f personal expression in art has been enlarged in recent years with the advent o f pictorial photography. As had been the case with etchers, when they had to fight for recog nition of their craft among the fine arts, and by the name of painter-etchers had to distinguish themselves from those of their confreres who used the medium simply as a process of reproduction, before they were allowed to exhibit their work side by side with the painters, so did the photographers o f the new school have to contend with the prejudice which attached to a tool heretofore imperfectly understood and the possibilities of which had only been dimly apprehended. But the fight is won and it is not our purpose to discuss the merits of the case. The pictorial possibilities o f photography having been recognized, patrons appeared, anxious to secure some of the best examples of the art. Here a new surprise awaited those who examined prints critically before pur chasing— the rarity of good prints. M any were the prints which showed artistic feeling and knowledge, where linear composition, grouping, spotting and chiroscuro were faultless, and yet the prints did not fully satisfy. T h ey did not produce the sensuous pleasure due to that subtle and evasive combina tion of merits named “ qu ality.” Tw o prints from the same negative may produce an entirely different impression on us. One m ay please us, the other leave us indifferent, and the only explanation we can give is that one has “ q u ality,” while the other lacks it. Q uality in prints is rare because it is due to two elements, one born of knowledge, the other of chance. No man who does not possess an absolute command over the technique of the process will produce a print capable of giving us the delicate pleasure created by a fine thought perfectly expressed. No man, no matter how great a master of his craft he m ay be, is ever certain o f exactly duplicating a print, no more than Whistler could have printed two pulls from the same plate where minor differences did not exist, and where out o f an edition of twenty-five prints, or whatever number the plate would yield, one print could not be pronounced superior to all the others. It is no more true of photographs than it is of etchings that one print is as good as another. Y ou have only to look through the portfolios of any of the leading photograph ers to become convinced of the fact. Y ou will be surprised to see how wide the differences m ay be. T he making of the negative is of course the first step, and you must first get in your negative what you want it to yield in your print. But the negative is only a means to an end and, to be frank, the easiest part of the process. Good negatives are abundant, good prints are scarce. The final result is dependent on a multiplicity of factors, such as the texture of the paper, the nature of the coating, its age, the composition and temperature of the develop ing bath, length of exposure, quality of the printing light, the condition of the atmosphere, local manipulations,— many of these factors being beyond the control of the photographer.
But while some o f the elements which make the print a success or a failure escape human control, the m ajority o f the conditions which shape the final results are sufficiently within the photographer’s grasp to enable him to attain under favorable circumstances whatever he wishes to express, or at least to approach it without feeling handicapped by his medium any more than a worker in oil or water-color. For every worker must figure with the possi bilities of his tools, and it is necessary for him to study the points o f superiority and the limitations of his medium. So much o f the result depends on the photographer’ s control that if he goes back to one o f his old negatives after his freshness o f vision is gone, or his natural evolution has modified his point of view, he will not be able to duplicate his former work. Choice photographic prints follow the universal law that things of beauty are scarce, for they are rarer in fact than fine etchings or even paintings. Painters have often painted several replicas of their successful can vases. Bocklin has painted seven of “ T he Isle of D eath .” Chardin has frequently painted six or seven replicas o f the same subject, and there are others amongst the famous painters who did likewise. In etchings the usual “ edition” comprises twenty-five to fifty pulls from the same plate. M an y photographs, such as Steichen’ s gum prints o f “ Len b ach ,” “ L e Penseur,” “ T he Little Round M irro r,” “ In M em oriam ,” are unique prints, and this worker has decided not to print more than six prints from any of his negatives. T he instances are few where this number has been exceeded by any worker, and they are numerous where no more than two or three prints from a negative are, or ever shall be, in existence. In Eu gen e’s case most of his beautiful Jap an paper proofs exist but in one example. On the day when art lovers and collectors understand that fine photographic prints are as scarce as pulls from Whistler’ s rarest plates and a source o f as keen an artistic enjoyment, a few more collectors will be added to the ranks of those who guard these rare examples jealously. Competition will become keener for the possession o f unusual prints as they appear in the market, and the auction rooms shall witness royal battles where the best prints of some o f the foremost pictorialists shall be disputed with as much fire as the choicest M eryons, Whistlers or Seymour Hadens. P a u l B. H a v i l a n d .
PLA T E S F R A N K EU G E N E IX .
OUR IL LU ST R A T IO N S U R illustrations include ten examples of prints by Frank Eugene, of New Y o rk and Munich, which will be supplemented in the next issue by about fourteen others. Taken together, they will present a very fair resume of the photographic work of this artist whose career involves some particulars of exceptional interest. For, while Eugene is one of the pioneers of pictorial photography, having been working in the medium for some twenty-five years, he has kept aloof from the personalities and politics in which most other photographers have at one time or another found them selves entangled. Except for occasional visits to America, he has for many years resided in Munich. In that chief center of German art he studied and won recognition as a painter, meanwhile turning to photography as a recreation. Although fascinated by its possibilities, he did not at first practise it with a view to developing its technical resources, but rather in a spirit of independent experiment. Thus, at first, he attained elimination of detail by the arbitrary short-cut of etching the negative. Meanwhile, he was the first to use platinumized Japanese tissue for printing, and some of his prints in this genre are among the most beautiful that have been produced in photography. Then came an occasion which changed the course of his artistic career. He was invited by some of the artists of Munich to give an exhibition of his photographs in the Künstler-Verein. T he impression which it created was so favorable that the Bavarian State Institution of Photography and the Reproductive Processes established a Chair of Pictorial Photography and prevailed upon Eugene to occupy it. From that time onward painting has become his secondary interest. Munich, while still regarding him as one of her artists, now recognizes him as professionally a photographer. A few of his prints have appeared from time to time in C a m e r a W o r k ; but an extended survey has been impossible hitherto, through Eugene’ s unwillingness to take the risk of sending his negatives to America. L ast summer, however, the editor being in Munich, he was able to overcome the objection, through the co operation of his old friend, M r. Goetz. This gentleman, an American, one of the originators of the three-color process in this country, is now at the head of the famous house of F . Bruckmann Verlag, of Munich, which, in addition to its comprehensive half-tone and color works, has an extensive photogravure plant. M r. Goetz arranged to reproduce Eugene’ s prints under the latter’s own supervision. The results are forthcoming in the present number, to be succeeded, as we have said, by fourteen more in the following issue. Thus, for the first time, the photographic work of this American artist can be adequately studied in reproduction. The Eugene pictures and the quality of the Bruckmann gravures speak for themselves.
AN IM P O R T A N T IN T E R N A T IO N A L EXH IBITION OF PH O TO G RAPH S
N the month of November the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (Albright A rt G allery) will hold an important international exhibition of photographs. T he announcement for the same comes to hand as we go to press. It is with special satisfaction that we reprint it, for it is an unequivocal and public recognition o f the work done by the Photo-Secession in the interest o f photography. T he announcement reads as follows : T H E B U FFA L O F IN E A R T S A C A D E M Y (A L B R IG H T A R T G A L L E R Y )
April 15, 1910 . Recognizing Photography as one of the mediums of expression in art B u f f a l o F i n e A r t s A c a d e m y will hold an Exhibition of Photography in the A l b r i g h t A r t G a l l e r y in November, 1910 . T o ensure the best possible representation, the arrangements have been placed in the hands of that organization which has done the most to promote this particular branch of art— T h e P h o t o - S e c e s s i o n . T he exhibition will be of an international character, comprising, in addition to the work of America, some of the best prints that have been made in England, Austria, Germ any and France. It will be a retrospective, but also representative of the latest work. Its distinguishing characteristic will be the G r o u p S y s t e m . T hus, in the first place, it will include the representation of a number of Individual Exhibitors selected by the Photo-Secession, the work of each being shown in separate groups by means o f the “ alcove method” of hanging. Secondly, the aggregate of the prints from each of the foreign countries will be similarly displayed in separate groups. Thirdly, there will be a group-exhibit of the work of Americans who hitherto have not had the opportunity of being adequately represented in an important exhibition. T
T h o se desirous o f exhibiting in the last-n am ed O p en Section are requested to send their prints, u n fram ed, express prepaid, to 2 9 1 F ifth A ve n u e , N e w Y o r k C ity , w here they w ill be ju d g e d b y T h e P h o t o - S e c e s s i o n . A ll prints for this class m ust be delivered to the above address before Septem ber 10th . T h e selection w ill be governed b y the principle o f In d epen den t V isio n and Q u a lity o f R en derin g. T o elim inate acciden tal successes, each exhibitor in this section m ust be represented b y at least three exam ples. In the case o f selected prints the express charges w ill be refunded b y the A l b r i g h t A r t G a l l e r y , w h ich also w ill d efray the expense o f returning them to their respective owners. A n y further inform ation that is desired m ay be obtained b y addressing T h e P h o to - S e c e s s io n . T
B u ffalo F C
o r n e l ia
B. S a g e , Acting Director.
ROYAL VELOX A delicately tinted cream paperâ€”especially beautiful when prints are re-developed Sepia. NEPERA DIVISION, EASTMAN KODAK CO., R O C H E S T E R , N. Y .
is synonymous with
Quality above all is sought for by readers of “ Camera Work” Lens Quality — above all— photographers will find in every lens bearing the name:
GOERZ The Dagor is the best all-around lens in the market: speed sufficient for most work; wonderful covering power; per fect definition; back combination may be used as a longfocus lens. The Celor is especially adapted for high-speed work. The par excellence lens for color work. G O E R Z lenses can be fitted to any and all makes of cameras: Ansco, Century, Graflex, any Kodak, Premo, Poco, Reflex, or Seneca. Have your dealer order one for you for a
ten days free trial.
C . P. Goerz American Optical Co. Office and Factory:
79 East 130th St., New York
Dealers’ Distributing Agencies : For Middle West, Burke & James, Chicago; Pacific Coast, Hirsch & Kaiser, San Francisco; Canada, R. F. Smith, Montreal.
Send 6 cents for new Catalogue or get one free at your dealers.
is synonymous with
SCHERING E S T A B L IS H E D T H E H IG H E S T S T A N D A R D FO R P Y R O
SCHERING M A IN T A IN S T H E S A M E H IG H S T A N D A R D IN T H E IR O T H E R D E V E L O P E R S
Satrapol Glycin Hydroquinone
D uratol Citol
V a r it o n e T a b l e t s A simple method fo r re-developing, without any disagree able odor, gas light and bromide papers, and lantern slides FRO M B L A C K A N D W H IT E TO G R E E N , B L U E ; B R O W N TO B R IC K R E D
SCHERING & GLATZ
NEW YORK, N. Y.
CLARENCE H. WHITE Three years lecturer on A rt in Photography at Teach ers’ College, Columbia University; and at the Brooklyn Institute o f Arts and Sciences, will conduct classes in photography at Seguinland, Maine, (Post Office, Five Islands, Me.) from July 5th to 26th, 19 10 . This place offers abundance o f interesting material for camera workers. Individual instruction will be given in the use of the camera, developing, printing, etc. Tuition for three weeks, $ 4 0 .0 0 ; per week, $ 15 .0 0 . The Seguinland Hotel w ill give a special rate o f $ 1 2 .0 0 per week. Dark room facilities will be provided by the hotel management. □ □ □ □ □ F. H o l l a n d D a y , o f Boston, will cooperate in the criticism o f the students’ work.
T H E PHOTOCHROME E N G R A V IN G COMPANY
H alf-tones & Color-Plates 162-166 S
e o n a r d
o r k
RO GERS & COMPANY P rin ters o f C am era Work Also o f H igh-class Catalogs, Announcements, E tcetera
9 M u r r a y St r e e t N ew Y o r k
eleph o ne
6640 B a r c l a y
THE MANHATTAN P H O T O G R A V U R E CO.
Art Reproductions, Catalogs 142
N T e le p h o n e
t r e e t
2193 M a d iso n S q u a re
N FULL motion, with sleek, black coats that absorb light are not too much of a “ stunt ” for the man with the TESSAR. The TESSAR has the light-gathering power, the speed to produce a negative of such a picture with perfect detail and full and bril liant color. The
Bausck & Lomb- Zeiss Tessar Lens is without doubt the best all-around lens on the market to-day—its work proves it. Our NEW COMPOUND SHUTTER matches in its su perior qualities the TESSAR LENS—the best of them all. Set of sample prints, showing scope of the T ESSAR LENS, on receipt of ten cents. Descriptive literature at photo dealers or direct from us. Our N am e on a Photographic Lens, Microscope, Field Glass, Laboratory apparatus, Engineering or any other Scientific Instrument is our Guarantee.
Bausch & lomb Optical Co NEW
OCHESTER . N.Y.
Camera Company D EALERS
H IG H -G R A D E OF
P H O T O G R A P H IC
S U P P L IE S
K IN D S
W. C., Angelo and American Platinum Papers. Velox papers in all grades. Royal Bromide Paper. Full lines of all sizes of Kodak films, Kodaks, Centurys, Premos, Graflex and View Cameras, with or without special lenses. Films specially packed for transatlantic voyages and for use in the tropics. Developing, Printing, Enlarging, Lantern Slides, Printes and Slides Colored N o t e .— A postal request will brin g you a sam ple copy o f P h o t o g r a p h ic T o p ic s , a monthly jou rn al devoted exclu sively to photography.
147 FU L T O N S T R E E T , N E W YORK C. A . STEINHEIL SOEHNE O ptical and A stro n o m ic al W o rk s E s ta b lis h e d 1 8 5 5
BI N D IN G S FOR CA ME R A WORK A S DESIGNED BY M ESSRS. ALFRE D ST IE G L IT Z A N D E D U A R D J. STEICH EN
High-class Binding o f all descrip tions. P h o t o g r a p h s Mounted and Bound in Album Form, etc., etc.
OTTO KNOLL SERI ES 1 U N O F O C A L F. 4. 5
M A O S T rapid an astigm at, sp e c ia l ly d esigned fo r use w here short exp o su res are required. I t con sists of four single len ses w hich are not cem ented and are arranged sym m etrically. I t is the only F .4 .5 double an astigm at on the m arket. These de sirable o b jectives are now supplied b y
H ERBERT & H UESGEN S o le U n it e d S ta te s A g e n t s
3 1 1 M adison A v e n u e , N ew Y o rk , N. Y . W ri te for further information
743 L E X I N G T O N A V E N U E , NEW Y O R K , N. Y . Telephone 1 8 j o P laza
N eutral Art Papers a n d B oards f o r PhotoM ounts T’h e Seymour Company
76 Duane Street
For convenience and better negatives use the
Eastman Plate Tank No tire so m e dark -ro om w o r k . E A S T M A N K O D A K CO., A ll dealers.
R O C H E S T E R , N. Y .
3- Special KODAK A new camera having every refinement that can be put into a pocket instrument, but no complications. The 3 A Special makes pictures 3 1/4 x5 1/2 inches, using K odak Film Cartridges. T he optical equipment consists of the famous Zeiss-Kodak Anastigm at Lens ( speed f . 6.3 ) and the Com pound Shutter, which has an extreme speed of I/zoo of a second, working accurately on the instantaneous action from that speed down to one second, and giving also “ time” exposures. W ith this equipment, speed pictures far beyond the ordinary range and snap shots on moderately cloudy days are readily made. A n d the camera itself is fully in keeping with its superb optical equipment. It has a rack and pinion for focusing, rising and sliding front, brilliant reversible finder, spirit level, two tripod sockets and focusing scale. T h e bellows is of soft black leather, and the camera is covered with the finest Persian Morocco. A simple, serviceable instrument, built with the accuracy of a watch and tested with painstaking care. A high-priced camera—but worth the price. K odak C a ta logu e f r e e at th e d e a le r s o r by m ail.
EA STM A N
o c h e st e r
N . Y .,
The Kodak City.
H ave an excellen ce p ecu liarly th eir ow n . T h e best results are o n ly p ro d u ced b y the best m eth od s and m e a n s— the best resu lts in P h o to grap h , P o ste r, and o th er m o u n tin g can o n ly be attained b y u sin g the best m o u n tin g p a s te —
pictures Mounted W ith
HIGGINS* PH O T O M O U N T E R (E xcellent novel brush with each jar.)
HIGGINS' PHOTO MOUNTER
A t Dealers in Photo Su pplies, A r t is t s ’ M a te ria ls and S ta tio n e ry . A 3 -oz. jar prepaid by mail fo r thirty cts. or circulars free from
C H A S. M . HIGGINS & CO., M frs. N E W Y O R K —CH ICAG O — LONDON M ain Office, 2 7 1 N inth S t . \ B ro o k lyn , F a c to r y , 240=244 E ig h th S t . j N. Y ., U .S .A .
T el eph on e 2533 Madison Sq uar e
M A K E R OF F IN E FRAM ES and R ep r o d u ct i o n s F r a m e d with Artistic J u d g m e n t .
3 E ast Twenty-eighth Street, N ew York
P la tes for Publication are finished by m any firm s w ith the R o y le P h o to -E n g ra v e rs ’ M a ch in ery . A n d w e are frequ en tly told by users they w ill have none other. T h is is y o u r assurance. W r i t e
o C rF
a t a louge
P a t e r s o n , N.J.,U.5.A. Royle Cutters Cut
3A G RAFLEX
A new camera, built on the Grafiex principle, which takes regular 3 A K odak film. T h e 3 A Grafiex is equipped with the Graflex Focal Plane Shutter working at any speed from time to 1/ 10 0 0 o f a second. T h e image can be seen on the ground glass right side up, full size o f negative up to the instant o f exposure. Film closets at each end o f the camera will hold four rolls o f film. 3 A Graflex with B. & L . Zeiss Tessar Lens
. . . .
Catalog at your dealers, or
FO LM ER & SCH W IN G DIVISION E A ST M AN KO D AK CO M PAN Y
R O C H E ST E R
NEW YO R K
Active chemicals tested by experts bear this mark:
SEED h o ld s th e r e c o r d fo r u n ifo rm e x c e lle n c e .
M. A. SEED DRY PLATE CO. ST. LOUIS, MO.
CameraWork THE M A G A ZIN E W ITH OUT A N “IF”—FEARLESS— IN D E P E N D E N T —W IT H OUT FAVOR
BY MARIUS DE ZAYAS
F. BRU CKM A N N , ArG., MUNICH h e f . b r u c k m a n n , a .- g ., m u n i c h , G e r m a n y , IS ONE OF T H E LA R G EST , AS W E L L AS O LD EST E S T A B L ISH M E N T S OF IT S KIN D IN T H E W ORLD. IT S P L A N T IS R EA D Y TO F I L L O RDERS IN A N Y OF T H E PROCESSES KNOWN IN T H E T E C H N IC S OF PH O TO G RA PH IC REPRO D U CTIO N . FOR Q U A L IT Y IN A L L OF T H E M SECOND TO NONE
■ ALL ITS VARIATION S IN COLOR AND MONOCHROME
IN COLOR AND MONOCHROME
IN COLOR AND MONOCHROME
■ (s t e a m -p r e s s )
AUTOTYPE, CARBON, ALBUMEN, &c., &c. T H E F IR M N O T O N L Y M A K E S T H E P L A T E S , B U T H AS A CO M PLETE
P R IN T IN G E S T A B L IS H M E N T
FO R A LL
I T S P R O C E S S E S , U P -T O -D A T E I N E V E R Y P A R T I C U L A R
P U B L I S H IN G
DEPARTM EN T
IS S U E S
M O S T C O M P R E H E N S IV E C O L L E C T I O N O F R E P R O D U C T I O N S IN CO LO R
M O N O C H R O M E , H A L F -T O N E ,
PH O TO G R A V U R E, OF T H E
P A IN T IN G S
CO LLO TYPE
IN A L L T H E F A M O U S
E U R O P E A N A R T G A L L E R IE S .
T H E G R A Y U R E S IN T H IS N U M B ER OF CAMERA W O R K A L L M A D E BY F. BRU CKM A N N , A:G., LO T H ST R A SSE M U N ICH , G E R M A N Y
Records show an absolute success for
ANGELO SEPIA A success never equalledâ€”a growing success well merited by beauty of tone and exquisite printing quality, j JO S, DI NUNZIO DIVISION, Eastman Kodak Co. ROCHESTER, N. Y
Published on Sep 2, 2016